It was not too long ago.
It was once the norm for women in Japan to make their own clothing. The winter in Aomori being unbearably severe, especially with no convenient heater, clothing was more vital than food for them. Not even one thread was left to waste. People wore the same clothes through many generations, patching with fabric scraps to make it thicker and adding stitches to make it tougher. When the clothing came to be of no more use, people tore them into pieces to use as threads to make new clothing. They spent unimaginable lengths of time to make clothing last as long as possible. Their hard earned techniques and a refined sense of beauty, to make better looking clothes for their loved ones, eventually yielded incomparably complicated patching patterns and designs.
“BORO” is now gaining international recognition in today’s art scene. It literally means “shabby” in Japanese. They do indeed look all shabby; yet at the same time, you would not be able to find such powerful and beautiful clothing as these BORO.
Even though BORO speak no words, we can hear them.
We can feel the warmth of the stiches. We can feel the girls’ wishes, strength, wisdom, and their potential sense of beauty. No matter how severe life got, they lived a life with love. No matter how miserably life treated them, they knew how to survive with laughter. They simply enjoyed creating for themselves with limited resources, never wasting even one short thread.
Now, over the ages, BORO has come to represent the opposite to todayfs prevailing consumer culture. It contains no waste, but only gloveh for the family that lasted forever.
BORO, so shabby but so beautiful, seems to throw at us the fundamental questions of life in a modern world.