tokyo

Rei Naito, Face (the joys were greater), ca. 1993–95/2015, magazine, thread, approx. 10 3/4 × 8 × 1 3/4".

Rei Naito

Gallery Koyanagi

Rei Naito, Face (the joys were greater), ca. 1993–95/2015, magazine, thread, approx. 10 3/4 × 8 × 1 3/4".

In Japan’s current furor over Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s “reinterpretation” of the postwar constitution’s renunciation of war, it’s hard not to see everything here through a political prism. At a recent protest outside the National Diet Building, one of the speakers, an animator, began his speech by invoking the etymological connection between animation and “life giving” via the root anima. Although his message was garbled in the hubbub of the crowd and by the caprices of the speaker system, the man—I didn’t catch his name—seemed to be suggesting that we assembled protesters were animating the constitution, giving it life, even as Abe was trying to strangle it.

These words unexpectedly returned to mind a few days later while I was viewing Rei Naito’s exhibition “The joys were greater.” Naito was showing a series of works called “Face (the joys were greater),” which she

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