“ISETAN GIRL GALLERY,” a new space located on the 2nd floor of the renovated Isetan Shinjuku referred to as the “Park” of Isetan girl, was curated by Maki Taguchi. Taguchi hosts the global project “MIG project.”
Under the concept, “theatre wonder room,” the space is imaged after a moving theater and aims to introduce Tokyo’s “latest and finest aspects” that attract people around the world.
Taguchi was appointed as curator for “ISETAN GIRL GALLERY” for her understanding of the value of real art as well as her understanding of girly elements. Taguchi has a strong network of young artists and musicians through her activities.
Taguchi comments on the gallery as follows.
“Half of ISETAN GIRL GALLERY is for visual presentations created by Isetan and the other half is a gallery space for expressing art liberally. It is a fusion of two spaces with different purposes that come together to portray a unified message, which stands in the middle of fashion business and art. We will feature an artist each time that fits the world of girly culture. It wasn’t easy to create the layout design though.”
Since the space is for commercial purposes, the artist is bound by a few rules. For example, one cannot use works that are flammable or hang heavy pieces from the ceiling. Similarly, Isetan needs to allow room for each artist to freely create within the art space, otherwise new art will not be born. The role of Taguchi is to work as a liaison for the two parties to create what she sees to be a world that girls love.
Taguchi first called upon up-and-coming artist Tomoko Nagai, who received a prize from TOKYO WONDER WALL and was highly acclaimed for the solo exhibit held at Tomio Koyama Gallery. Her artworks feature a fantastic world depicting bears, cats and girls lingering in natural surroundings. Saying that she is fond of Moomin written by Tove Marika Jansson, she has been inspired by dolls and toys in her childhood.
“I grew up with doll houses. I played with dolls from Sylvanian-Families as a child. I placed them on grass and stared at them or sometimes put them inside water (laugh).”
Taguchi says that Nagai’s artworks depict “a world that girls can naturally relate to.” Nagai’s world is cute, warm but fragile at the same time, creating a surreal atmosphere. Her works follow the seasons so for the start-up, spring will be featured which matched Taguchi’s concept.
“I consciously selected an artist that did not seemingly have a high affinity to fashion. I thought it would broaden perspectives if that person’s field was outside fashion. In reality though, the project would not work if the artist did not have an understanding of fashion. Ms. Nagai has an interest in fashion, music, movies and various genres, which is why she was the perfect candidate,” says Taguchi.
Nagai willingly accepted Taguchi’s offer and was very enthusiastic about participating. Being the first artist to be featured, guidelines were not set yet but Nagai saw this as an opportunity. “I feel more motivation when there are a few challenges (laugh).” and says she was able to visualize her work when she saw the gallery space.
She will present works choosing the spring constellations of Corona Borealis, the Little Dipper and the Lynx as a theme. Smaller items are spotted here and there in line with her personal toys and stuffed animals. Star-shaped mobile sculptures are dangling from the ceiling to create a girly and artistic space. On the grand opening day, customers were gazing at them and it seemed as if they had forgotten that they were in a department store.
Stockings and socks designed by Nagai will be on sale from April at the “Park.” “I want the items to sell well since I put an effort in making them. I want people who do not usually go see art to say that the space is ‘kawaii’” says Nagai.
Taguchi feels the same enthusiasm as Nagai to create a world where fashion business meets art.
“Recently, it is difficult to encounter unexpected or unimaginable situations. I think almost everyone would be surprised if they could encounter such a situation when coming to Isetan Shinjuku. My concept is a ‘transition to a different world and new discoveries.’ In that sense, this space is a real theatre,” comments Taguchi.