[Photos: Thorsten Arendt] [Exhibition view Suchan Kinoshita. Architektonische Psychodramen, Westfälischer Kunstverein, Münster (Germany), 2022. Comissioned by Westfälischer Kunstverein]

By titling her exhibition “Architectural Psychodramas,” Suchan Kinoshita effectively provides the salient keywords that lead to a possible mode of reception. Kinoshita invariably eschews fixed categories and definitions; she loves the changeable and the speculative. For her, architecture is built space, environmental space that influences us, but also something that we shape. “Psychodramas,” experiences, memories and emotions stick to it, but without necessarily congealing; they remain changeable. This understanding of time and space, replete with the subject-object groupings and contexts of meaning that are constantly updated within it, also resonates recognisably in her background in music and performance art. The individual elements in the exhibition are not given one single role or meaning. Rather, it is about their “potential as objects,” as Eran Schaerf described it in the catalogue for Kinoshita's exhibition at Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2010). As a result, there are countless connections to be discovered between the totality of the assembled elements, which coalesce and condense in a number of themes and ideas, no sooner to jump into another context once more.

Orientation and support in this endeavour are initially promised by the artist's “spatial drawing,” which she welded together out of metal struts. She has visibly perceived the exhibition space as a volume or container – not as an addition of wall and floor surfaces in her inclusion of the ceiling in her construction, supporting it at one point and suspending an element from it at another. The struts of various individual metal elements travel into the void, they do not touch the wall, do not complete the form that has been initiated. Thus, the metal structure itself eludes a fixed designation, but ushers in a host of associations, ranging from an arcade with display windows to household furniture, such as a bed or clothes cupboard.

This architecture is inhabited by all manner of characters. Among them is the immediately identifiable artist and musician, David Bowie (1947–2016), who, in the form of a printed poster, is intertwined with a bed-like architectural structure. The poster depicts Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust persona, performing in Tokyo in 1973, dressed in a robe made by the Japanese designer, Kansai Yamamoto (1944–2020). A similar poster hung above Kinoshita's bed in her room for many years during her adolescence. A direct reference to the artist emerges in this case way more than in any other places in the exhibition: Suchan Kinoshita was born in Tokyo, where she spent the first nineteen years of her life, to a German mother and a Japanese father.  

Memories and experiences of both cultures and the way they intersect are repeatedly reflected in her artistic practice. Kinoshita attributes a special significance to architecture (in the broadest sense) when it comes to remembering. It provides a container, a materiality and orientation for memories, thoughts and feelings. Memories become more palpable through it and, at the same time, spaces and architectures are charged with a more complex and individual significance: architectural psychodramas no less! But here, too, the principle of change applies: no individual memory ever stays the same. It is never pure imitation, but it always creates something new. Her integration of ten stainless steel spheres as “the missing ten” can also be understood in this sense; they originally belong to Otto Piene's light installation Silver Frequency (1972/2014) that covers the façade of the LWL Museum for Art and Culture, but which had to make way for the Regional Authority’s logo when it was attached to the new building in 2014. 

In addition to these artistic personalities, whom Kinoshita features as protagonists in her architectural psychodramas, there are other characters who weave additional threads between the thematic strands of architecture, the body, memory and identity. Alongside Yamamoto and Bowie, clothing, fashion and their signifying power are also embedded components of the exhibition. Kinoshita complements this with her “rag” (ger.: “Lumpen”) collection, which is offered for sale as fashion in the display window, but which she has also elaborated upon in various works in the exhibition. “Rags,” which are old clothes cut up by hand, can be bought by the sack-load in Belgian hardware stores as building materials, cleaning supplies and so on. Kinoshita sews them back together, dips them in cement or clay, paints them with their original prints, and lets them dry out in a flattened state, that is to say, petrify. She has sewn labels from her multidisciplinary brand “Allerleihrauh” (engl: “All-kinds-of-fur”) into purchasable “rag saris” that can be tried on in the changing room that she also built. “Allerleihrauh” is a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm and is also the eponym of its main protagonist. The princess in the story wears a coat made of “all-kinds-of-fur,” i.e., various tanned but not yet processed animal skins. 

For about two years now, Suchan Kinoshita – who studied New Music in Cologne under Mauricio Kagel, among other things – has again been increasingly involved with music, her current focus of interest being “pop songs,” as she herself puts it. These songs, which she wrote, composed and produced herself, can be heard alternately and with interruptions in the exhibition and thus also contribute to a constantly changing perception of space. The songs are also present in moments of silence: eight mobile phones (as playback devices) and eight Bluetooth speakers are housed in the metal architecture and lend the songs a physical presence.  

The relevance of language and the playful use of it, its ambiguities and humour, are reflected in the pop songs, but also in the installation in the small space, where visitors themselves can play a record on which Kinoshita has recorded the lyrics from her publication “Da Capo”. “Da Capo” refers to Kinoshita's work The difference is this: You go in or you stay out, You stay in or you go out: this is the difference, a site-specific installation she originated for the Art Basel art fair in 1998. Complex questions arose around the project concerning its realisation, its reconstruction years later, spatial circumstances and restrictions, as well as the inherent mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion in the commercial art system: here, too, we encounter an architectural psychodrama. Kinoshita has processed this artistically in a series of texts bordering on the lyrical, which, in their flow, density and sparse punctuation, are decidedly reminiscent of Gertrude Stein, whom Kinoshita cites as an important influence.

[Text: Kristina Scepanski]

©YYYYMMDD All content and design by Daniela Grabosch + Ricardo Almeida Roque unless otherwise stated. Images, Videos and Texts can only be used under permission of the author(s).