Region/Concept: East Asia, Space
Sub-Concepts: Fragility, Constraint, Entanglement
Description: East Asian installation artists are increasingly constructing rooms made of silk: Tianmiao Lin (China), Do Ho Suh (Korea), Akiko Ikeuchi (Japan).

This rising trend of building silk rooms takes us into the heart of the fabric’s own paradox: on the one hand, a material of fragility, softness, and smoothness (the fine threads); on the other hand, a force of entanglement, tightness, and constriction (the spider’s web). Elegant constraint; opulent binding; swathed-unto-lightness. Thus it forms a unique trap, these filaments of absolute luxury (made for the robes of kings and queens) that are nevertheless formed from the ghastly secretions of the “lowest beings” (made from insect larvae and the cocoons of silkworms). However, when its thin fibers are stretched to fill an entire room, we find ourselves caught in a register like no other, one that intertwines experiences of solidity, liquidity, and aeriality: the silken elsewhere. We are woven or braided across the loom of a dangerous question, as if silk itself were a medium of espionage (the sleeper cell or fifth column). And so one asks: Why are the artists of the present moment evermore drawn to this category of anomaly, seamlessness, and enveloping? Is there a rare code at work, within the strands?

Jason Mohaghegh