2. WORKS

Our intention of TOKYO RECYCLE PROJECT is to make following things come to life again in neutral condition: the condition of the city where a consumer market society exists and keeps on changing, the relation between human beings and the nature, and variety of events, people, things, information or stories around the city.

Developing the system of mass production and mass consumption with increasing speed realized the lifestyle economically rich; at the same time 21st century has come with increasing waste such as industrial pollution and many problems of environment left. The problems are nowadays subdivided and detailed: environmental and population issues, a society marked by a widening disparity between winners and losers, and conflicts caused of racial or religious issues.
Surrounded with plenty of things and information, most of us might spend “everyday life which just keeps on passing” following the speed of the society with anxiety and hesitation, but even without finding something specific.

I started my career as fashion designer in 1994 with my design partner LICA. Longing for the brilliant society of fashion, I just kept on creating things to look forward to finding new clothes. I feel happy and excited when I put new clothes on and that feeling always gives me plenty of energy which is beyond the description. However, it is specific in this society that people are always busy contrary to the image which is apparently gorgeous.

When I came home, I was sometimes having a sort of solitude in my room. It does not mean that I was in need of something. I was rather satisfied materially and also was happy with my work at that time. But passing every day too busy, my room was full of things: clothes were put anywhere around the room because of the closets which was already full, things were left unopened, CDs or DVDs were around. It was also because of my bad habit, but it exactly represented my intense desire. I was spending above-mentioned “everyday life which just keeps on passing” after all.
One day I ventured to throw things away but things are never reduced and many things left besides: CDs or DVDs, books, toys, parts of motorcycle and so on.
Closets were especially tough because there were plenty of stuffs to which my precious memories were tightly attached: “I put on this embroidery jacket when I was high school student and first came to Tokyo”, “I wore the pants from SEDITIONARIES when I went to London at that time”, “this aloha shirt is what my mother gave me when I was junior high student” etc.
How would I dispose of “things that I don’t want to throw away but I can’t live with comfortably because of the volume”? The answer was to “paint them all white”. I painted every thing in my room white and some miraculous sensation was left: “the things with memories that I couldn’t throw away came to life again and existed without any doubt”.
I know that it was caused of my personal habits; however, I thought there would be many people who spend “everyday life which just keeps on passing” and leave stuffs with memories behind in closet. Could I let them know this fact through the fashion as media? That is how I started TOKYO RECYCLE PROJECT in 1999.

I started subjectively TOKYO RECYCLE PROJECT as you could see, but I found out one thing, seeing many clothes and people through the project and hear their memories or emotions. A fact that there is one material that people does not recognize: it is an invisible material “shape of the heart”. This material was woven in the clothes and various emotions were memorized.

In autumn of 2005, my exhibition was held at Powerhouse museum in Australia, one local designer told me that she would like to be involved in my project. The application was over at that time but her inquiry was on my mind. I met her at the museum and talked with her for a couple of hours. Her request was: “could you make something with the T-shirts that my deceased husband used to wear?”
She told me that she was away from home for quite a period to make Sydney Olympic costumes. When she came home, her husband had already died. She quitted her job right after and started to recuperate.
I visited her home later. It took 2 and a half hour by car from Sydney; she lived on the top of a mountain with many leaves and flowers. She showed me many objects with memories and talked a lot about her partner and herself at that time. I returned to the museum with 500 pieces of T-shirts that her deceased husband used to wear.
While the creation, many thoughts came upon to my head through these used T-shirts: “did he wear this shirt when he visited Aborigine place to reuse many things?”, “how does she live with these shirts left in her hands?”

“I was convinced that if you have a piece of clothes with memories, there your memories are woven on”.

I met many persons besides:
One lady in her sixties, who participated at a project in NY, brought a scarf with painting of a male painter whom she adored for 40 years. She would like me to make that scarf into something else because he passed away.
One male writer brought a unique jacket of which the right elbow part were totally wore off and this part was always bend even if he put it on a hanger. He said that he wore that jacket when he started to work and he was writing the articles every day so that he nearly got an inflammation of a finger joint due to overwork. When he wrote an article wearing that jacket, its article was accepted without fail. He could never throw away that because it was a kind of mascots for him.
Someone brought a lap robe of great grand parents’ and would like me to make something with it for a baby to be born etc...
There are various cases of rebirth: one would like to change the form of an item to hand down the memories (succeeding case), one would like to keep something left deep in his/her heart on an item (purifying case), and the other would like to leave his/her habits on the form of item itself (reminding case). After grasping those cases, I realized that giving new life to old clothes in this project means “giving new life to people’s heart=the shape of heart”.

Why the rebirth of the heart is required? I supposed that it should be linked with the fact I wrote in the beginning: many of lifestyle and environment problems are caused of mass consuming society today.
Everywhere is flooded with things and information today, mental environment of people or each individual might be influenced by this situation. If our life were completely controlled by consumer’s way of thinking, our heart and mind, or physical energy would not have a good circulation. That would cause us to ignore some important memories or view of the truth. Should I exaggerate, that happens everywhere in the city today globally.

Owing to the consuming society, our life has become richer and we now have our view of city life. Things are getting diverse. The society would be realized where we could recognize ourselves integrated in the society or nature, if we stop spending “everyday life which just keeps on passing”.
Fashion always poses some subjects or new values to the times and also gives dreams or fantasies to people. Therefore, I believe that I could propose a new way of consumer society through fashion. At the same time, people pass daily life wearing clothes; a specific story of an individual is contained in a piece of clothing. To tell something important but invisible, fashion would be one of the ideal tools. As we used to wear a favorite shirt or a favorite T-shirt for many times when we were innocent...

“What I would like to express through TOKYO RECYCLE PROJECT is about an individual”.

If a memory which is put deep inside a closet away becomes neutral, we could become new I and new world would begin.
Happenings of all sorts in life are woven into clothes; a world around one person is reflected on it. I would express that an individual should never be the same with another individual through the fashion as media.

Masahiro Nakagawa
(translation: Ryohei Nakajima)