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Arakawa

THE ARTIST AND VISIONARY ARCHITECT Shusaku Arakawa, known by his surname alone, was in his mid-twenties when he left Japan, under some kind of cloud, in 1961. Legend has it that he arrived in New York with fourteen dollars and Marcel Duchamp’s phone number in his pocket. The following year he met Madeline Gins, a Barnard College graduate, in the art classes both were taking in Brooklyn, he to satisfy some visa condition, though he was already exhibiting his work. They became a couple almost immediately, and collaborators as well, soon embarking together upon their best-known artwork, The Mechanism of Meaning, 1963–73, consisting of eighty-three eight-foot panels that use images and peremptory commands to exercise our semantic intuitions. It was published as a book (in German) in 1971. In the 1980s, the couple would turn their attention to architecture, designing living spaces that put the

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