Craft Portrait: Dorozome exhibited at gallery Kazerne for the exhibition Between No-Longer and Not-Yet during Dutch Design Week 2021, photography by Yuta Sawamura

2 Craft Portrait: Dorozome publication

3 Craft Portrait: Dorozome exhibited at Z33 for the exhibition re-FORMAT in February 2021, photography by Selma Gurbuz

4 installation textiles drying in the air

5 Kanai Kougei workshop

6 treasures of the workshop

7 Japanese traditional craftsmanship certificattion

8 extracts from our Deep Mind for Z33 (design by Jore Dierckx)

9 washing the textiles by the river with Kazuko-san

01. Craft Portrait

Craft Portrait is a project initiated in collaboration with Satomi Minoshima for the program and exhibition re-FORMAT by museum Z33 House for Contemporary Art, Design & Architecture in Hasselt, Belgium (2021).

For Craft Portrait: Dorozome, we travelled to Amami Oshima, an island located in the South of Japan. There, we spent three weeks with the artisans of dorozome workshop Kanai KougeiDorozome is a mud-dyeing technique during whose process white yarns are repeatedly dyed -the technique requires more than 85 dyeing steps!- until they reach a deep black colour. This immersive field trip allowed us to dive into the artisans’ everyday life, helping us understand their relationship to their craft and get acquainted with the island’s culture.  

The rhythm of the dyeing process shaped our entire time in Amami. It led us to discover a new cycle of creation. The craft showed us its transformative potential, both of the products that we conceived and of our relationship to what we had created. In a largely globalized and standardized world, material creation often takes the shape of quickly mass-produced goods and we believe in the counter-cultural, alternative, almost rebel potential of craftsmanship to challenge the status quo. That’s what we want to emphasize with Craft Portrait. How to see further than the final product of such a rich and complex process?

Our textile installation highlights the usually invisible process colours of the technique. By tackling the so-called artisan aesthetic, the aesthetic of artefacts incomplete or in the process, we give a stage to those anonymous colours to exist.

We are using the rhythm of the twisting motions present in the dyeing process in our installation to accentuate the repetition of the artisans’ movements throughout the completion of the craft. This movement merges with the voices of the artisans telling about their relationship to their craft.

Beside our textile exhibition, we have published an art book containing 11 interviews we directed with the artisans we met on Amami Oshima. By involving the artisans and creating space for their testimonies, stories and opinions on their craft, we lead a dialogue surrounding craftsmanship that values the speech of the people performing it every day. At its core, the project originates from the wish to narrate craftsmanship in the most forthright way. Instead of relying on secondhand sources and online « how-to’s », we want to go straight to the source of a country’s craft culture and understand it from the inside.

This project is supported by POLA Art Foundation.