FUROSHIKI PROJECT was an installation created in 2002 and was one of the pieces in my MIYOSHI a taste that lingers unfinished in the mouth exhibition at the Richmond Art Gallery, in the fall of that year. It was made up of fourteen furoshiki that were stitched out of red charmeuse silk lined with white crêpe de chine silk. Each furoshiki was silkscreened, and one was also embroidered, with different bits of text (poems, statements, stories, ramblings, bird sightings, etc.).
Furoshiki, coming from the words furo (bath) and shiki (spread) conjures up images of water and movement for me. The simple square piece of cloth that is the furoshiki has a long history as a utilitarian item in Japan, first used as a kind of bath mat and carrying cloth for trips to and from local public baths. In later years it began to be used for wrapping and carrying almost anything, from food and gifts, to bedding and personal belongings. In our family, its use was usually related to food, to wrap and carry trays of inari or maki sushi for family and community dinners, onigiri and bowls of potato salad for summer picnics at the lake, and obento lunches for the road. Traveling with me conceptually over the years, furoshiki carry not only platters of comfort food to be shared with family and friends but also the idea of portability itself. What do we carry around with us? What lingers? Remains? Returns? What is understood in each new location, situation, and relationship?
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Today, while working on another project, I was trying to locate the actual text for the poem she tastes, she stumbles, she barely remembers that I used on one of the furoshiki, in FUROSHIKI PROJECT. My search led me to back up copies of documents on old CDs and DVDs, to files that I couldn’t actually open and read on my current laptop. And that led me to dig out old laptops which I thankfully never traded in. It turns out, that now it’s one of the only ways for me to try and retrieve information and data on some older projects. Transcribing the poem into a Word document on my current computer and rereading it, made me decide to also make an audio recording of this poem. It’s one of the pieces of text from FUROSHIKI PROJECT that still really resonates for me. It feels like something I could have recently written although I actually wrote it more than twenty years ago. Since I recorded it, I thought I’d share it here.
(Thursday, March 24th, 2022)
LOVED THIS PROJECT! The beautiful way in which the project is described and bits of text on the cloth does linger in my heart and I so wish to read the complete piece. Apart from the deep meaning and essence that the cloth carries, I wonder if its texture and quality come from the original Furoshiki as well?
Oh, thank you so much for this, Sukh.
For me, certainly, the material (it’s texture and quality, the feeling under the movement of fingers when handled, and the colours as well) are all important to the piece. These are things I spend a lot of time considering (researching, testing out, and just being with) in the process of building a piece. How something is experienced or might be experienced through our various senses, matters to me. It’s a part of what I work with, so thank you so much for noticing and wondering.
Sukh, I forgot to mention that I still have this piece, so maybe one day in the future when we can visit in person, I’ll get it out so you can read the text on all the furoshiki, if you’d like.
I would love that! Thank you!