Harajuku Nope-Ople vs. Luchadores (detail), 2010-2011
Fashion magazines, books, electric eraser, eraser shavings, bottles, wood, and sealing wax
Takehito Etani creates a series of work about spirituality and the afterlife in two cultural communities that on the surface seem entirely secular: young fashionistas in the Harajuku district of Tokyo and lucha libre wrestlers of Mexico. By meticulously erasing people out of printed photographs, Etani searches for their true nature hidden underneath the layers of costume and fashion, referencing Buddhist philosophies about the self and the history of lucha libre mask design evoking animals, gods, and other spiritual archetypes.
His work also alludes to suminuri kyokasho, a practice during the American occupation of Japan after WWII where Japanese students and teachers blackened out sections of textbooks referring to imperial, nationalistic, and militaristic ideologies; this was done primarily as a self-censorship exercise. However, with this series of work, Etani manipulates printed magazines and books not as a mechanism for suppression, but rather as a means for liberation.
Chico & Chang
June 11 - August 20, 2011
Intersection for the Arts
San Francisco, CA
Photo credit: Scott Chernis