Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

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獣の皮を被り 草の編みもの Donning Animal Skins and Braided Grass
  • Konoike Tomoko
    born 1960
    born: Akita, Japan ; active: Japan
  • 獣の皮を被り 草の編みもの Donning Animal Skins and Braided Grass, 2011
  • Where object was made: Japan
  • mirror, wood, Styrofoam, aluminum
  • Object Height/Width/Length: 116 x 41 x 320 cm assembled
    Object Height/Width/Length: 45 11/16 x 16 1/8 x 126 in assembled
  • Museum purchase: R. Charles and Mary Margaret Clevenger Art Acquisition Fund
  • Not on display
  • 2017.0048.a,b
Label Text

Exhibition Label:
"Temporal Turn: Art and Speculation in Contemporary Asia", 11-Nov-2016
Invisible, untouchable
Only from the rising smoke did I know their whereabouts
Nourished by the forest, and dying for its sustenance
Their faint voices swallowed up by the mist
Oh, you creatures of the wild
The forest is deep, the vegetation thick
—Konoike Tomoko, “Donning Animal Skins and Braided Grass”

In ancient times, densely forested mountains carpeted the Japanese archipelago. These alpine forests teamed with wolves such as the large Hokkaidō wolf in the north, and its smaller cousin the Honshū wolf in the south. Today both species of native Japanese wolves are extinct. This mirror-encrusted sculpture revives the spirit of the vanished Japanese wolf. Walking on six legs, it gleams like an otherworldly apparition or a mutant clone. In Japanese legend, the wolf embodies the “spirit of the mountain.” Similarly, within Konoike’s art the wolf operates as a potent symbol infused with mythic qualities.