Takahiro Iwasaki – Castle in the air (2011)


A number of paperbacks are piled up in an extremely improbable and unstable fashion on ten wooden bookcases. On top of the books, there are some tiny cranes of about ten centimetres in height, their cables attached to the books. The suggestion is that it is these cranes that have stacked the books in such a peculiar fashion. It is as though a self-regulating system is at work in this space, a system in which people have no role to play. Tectonic Model (2009) is an installation by Takahiro Iwasaki (Hiroshima, 1975, where he lives and works).


In his multimedia installations, Iwasaki creates complete, extremely poetic worlds on a micro level. These are miniature urban landscapes that refer both to Asian traditions – particularly the tradition of the miniature – and to the architectural construction of the world.

They are made of everyday objects, such as towels, pencils, bookmarks and books. The objects are often dissected, with individual elements used to construct the installation: the lead from pencils, for example, or the bookmark from a book or the threads that were used to make a towel. The materials are familiar, and evoke many associations with everyday life, but at the same time they now belong to another universe.


Iwasaki’s work Out of Disorder (Complex) (2008) is colourful and completely charming. It consists of a bright collection of towels in an untidy pile on the floor. A number of small towers rise up out of this pile like a cross between an electricity mast, the Eiffel tower and an Asian temple. These constructions are made from threads of the fabric on which they are standing and so, logically, they are the same colour as the towel below. The complex structures of the towers are very carefully and precisely put together in an extremely time-consuming process. Like Iwasaki’s other installations, the work is very fragile, so delicate that it looks as though it might collapse at the first breath of wind.


The miniature format and the sophistication lend Iwasaki’s work an aura of calm. It is diametrically opposed to the art of the grand gesture. Iwasaki’s Reflection Models have a contemplative atmosphere: these are Japanese temples of pale cypress wood that hang from the ceiling on invisible strings, so that they appear to be floating in the air. The top and bottom halves of the temples reflect each other exactly, as though the religious edifice’s reflection in water has become physical.


In Edinburgh Castle on the Bin Bag (2008), Iwasaki used shiny black card to build a model of the castle on top of an open, full bin bag, in a very detailed work, complete with windows and a flagpole. In spite of the negative connotations of the bin bag and the black colour, this work is enchanting. This is because of its small format, but also because the sculpture quite literally creates an exceptionally subtle and fragile world in its own right. This work was the inspiration for Iwasaki’s contribution to Lustwarande ’11, which is placed just out of reach of the public, on the branch of a tree. Iwasaki has built another castle, a copy of the original Tilburg castle, reproduced from a drawing on the internet, on a bin bag. In this case, however, he constructed the building itself from a plastic bag of the same type, so that the castle and its surroundings appear to have sprung from the living tree as one artificial whole.


Manon Braat / translation Laura Watkinson