"I am looking for a new definition of perfection."

"Choose everything." 


Shusaku Arakawa (荒川 修作, July 6, 1936 – May 18, 2010) was a Japanese artist and architect. He had a personal and artistic partnership with writer and artist Madeline Gins that spanned more than four decades.

Before arriving in New York in 1961, Arakawa had studied mathematics and medicine at the University of Tokyo, and art at the Musashino Art University. He was a member of Tokyo’s Neo-Dada Organizers; in 1958, he exhibited at the 10th Yomiuri Independent exhibition, a watershed event for the postwar Japanese avant-garde. In New York, Arakawa sought out Marcel Duchamp, having the gall to ring him up right from the airport the day he arrived, and the two became close friends.  Duchamp found Arakawa’s art so radical that he strongly advised, particularly in light of the mad-house the art-world was (is!), that he get a job.   The 1965 Arakawa exhibition at the Dwan Gallery is an important event in the history of conceptual art.

In 1963, he began collaborating with Madeline Gins on the research project The Mechanism of Meaning. In 1987, they founded the ABRF (formerly Containers of the Mind Foundation). They designed and built residences (Reversible Destiny Houses, Bioscleave House, Shidami Resource Recycling Model House) and parks (Site of Reversible Destiny - Yoro). They developed an original theory and practice of the relation of the human being to the exterior world, elaborated most extensively in their book, Architectural Body. In 2010, Arakawa and Madeline Gins created a new foundation, the Reversible Destiny Foundation, which actively collaborates with a wide-range of disciplines including, experimental biology, neuroscience, quantum physics, experimental phenomenology, and medicine to produce new works of procedural architecture. Together and separately they were the authors of several books and exhibition volumes, most recently, "Making Dying Illegal"


2010 Founded the Reversible Destiny Foundation with Madeline Gins

1987  Founded Architectural Body Research Foundation (Formerly Containers of Mind Foundation) with Madeline Gins

1963  Began collaborating with Madeline Gins on the research project The Mechanism of Meaning

1961   Arrived in New York

1936  Born in Japan


2003 Shiju Housho – Purple Imperial Award

2003 Nihon Gendai Geijutsu Shinko Sho – Award for innovation in Japanese contemporary art from Japan Arts Foundation

1998 The highest award in the Rainbow Town Urban Design Competition goes to the Arakawa/Gins Chinju no Mori/Sensorium City (Tokyo Bay)

1988-89 Belgian Critics' Prize

1997  College Art Association’s Artist Award for Exhibition of the Year/Distinguished Body of Work, Presentation or Performance Award

1987-88  John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship

1986  Awarded by the French Government: Chevalier des Arts et des Lettre


2010  AG3: The Third International Arakawa and Gins: Architecture and Philosophy Conference, Griffith University, Australia

2008 “Reversible Destiny - Declaration of the Right Not to Die: Second International Arakawa + Gins Architecture + Philosophy Conference/Congress," University of Pennsylvania, Slought Foundation

2005  “Arakawa and Gins: Architecture and Philosophy,” University of Paris X-Nanterre


2000-08  Bioscleave House, East Hampton, Long Island, New York

2002-05   Reversible Destiny Lofts – Mitaka, Tokyo, Japan

2001-05  External Genome Housing Project, Shidami, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan

1996  Reversible Destiny Office, Yoro, Gifu Prefecture, Japan

1994  Site of Reversible Destiny, Yoro, Gifu Prefecture, Japan [seven acre site in central Japan]

1992  Ubiquitous Site * Nagi's Ryoanji * Architectural Body, [Permanent Installation], Nagi MOCA, Nagi, Japan

1992  Ubiquitous Site * Nagi's Ryoanji * Heart, [Permanent Installation], Nagi MOCA, Nagi, Japan

Selected One-Man Exhibitions

1998 NTT Intercommunication Center:The City as the Art Form of the Next Millennium

1997 Guggenheim Museum Soho: Reversible Destiny

1995 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf

1994 Hara Museum of Comtemporary Art, Tokyo

1993 Busche Galerie, Berlin

1992 National Museum of Kyoto

1991 National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo

1990 Joseloff Gallery, Hartford

1990 DAAD Gallery, Berlin

1990 Ronald Feldman Gallery, New York

1990 Busche Galerie, Koln

1989 Touko Museum, Tokyo

1988 Seibu Museum, Karuizawa

1988 Ronald Feldman Gallery, New York

1988 Isy Brachot, Brussels

1987 Ronald Feldman Gallery, New York

1987 Von Straaten Gallery, Chicago

1987 Galerie Yvon Lambert, Paris

1987 Seibu Museum, Tokyo

1987 Satani Gallery, Tokyo

1986 Gallery Blu, Milan

1986 Satani Gallery, Tokyo

1985 Ronald Feldman Gallery, New York

1985 Arnold Herstand Gallery, New York

1984 Padiglione d'Arte Contemporanea, Milan 

1984 Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, Connecticut

1983 Matrix Gallery, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford 

1983 Ronald Feldman Gallery, New York 

1983 Kitakyushu Museum, Kyushu, Japan

1982 Galerie Yvon Lambert, Paris 

1982 Galerie Maeght, Paris

1981 Lenbachhaus, Munich 

1981 Kästner Gesellschaft, Hannover

1981 The Arts Club of Chicago, Chicago

1980 John Stoller & Co., Minneapolis  

1980 Luria Gallery, Palm Beach  

1980 Galerie Maeght, Zurich

1980 Gallery Takagi, Nagoya

1979 The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis

1979 Seibu Museum, Tokyo            

1979 The National Museum, Osaka          

1979 Stadtische Kunstsammlungen, Ludwigshafen

1978 Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

1978 Nationalgalerie, Berlin

1978 Neue Galerie am Landesmuseum Johanneum, Graz 

1978 Margo Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles 

1978 Gallery Takagi, Nagoya

1977 Stadtsiche Kunsthalle, Dusseldorf 

1977 Galerie Maeght, Paris

1977 Galerie Art in Progress, Dusseldorf

1976 Ronald Feldman Gallery, New York            

1976 Multiples, New York

1976 Galleria 42, Barcelona

1976 Art in Progress, Munich

1975 Art in Progress Gallery, Dusseldorf

1975 Galerie Aronowitsch, Stockholm   

1975 Galerie Yvon Lambert, Paris

1975 Henie Onstad Museum, Oslo

1975 Michael Berger Gallery, Pittsburgh

1974 Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis 

1974 Galleria L'Uomo e L'Arte, Milano and Bergamo

1974 Ronald Feldman Gallery, New York

1974 Art in Progress Gallery, Munich

1974 The Museum of Modern Art, New York (Prints)

1973 Daytons Gallery 12, Minneapolis 

1973 Margot Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles

1972 Traveling Exhibition: The Mechanism of Meaning   

1972 Kunsthalle, Hamburg

1972 Nationalgalerie, Berlin

1972 Stadtische im Lenbachhaus, Munich

1972 Frankfurt Kunstverein, Frankfurt 

1972 Kunsthalle Bern, Bern            

1972 Art in Progress, Zurich            

1972 Galleria Bertesca, Genoa            

1972 Ronald Feldman Gallery, New York

1971 Harcus-Krakow Gallery, Boston

1971 Galerie Yvon Lambert, Paris

1971 Galeria Schwarz, Milan

1971 Angela Flowers Gallery, London 

1971 ROSC Show, Dublin  

1971 Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

1970 Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris 

1970 Hannover Kunstverein, Hannover  

1970 Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe

1970 Venice Biennale

1969 Galerie Yvon Lambert, Paris

1969 Dwan Gallery, New York 

1969 Galleria Schwarz, Milan 

1969 Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

1968 Dwan Gallery, New York 

1968 Galerie Lauter, Mannheim

1967 Von der Heydt Museum, Wuppertal

1967 Galleria Schwarz, Milan

1967 Dwan Gallery, New York and Los Angeles

1966 Wuttembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart

1966 Dwan Gallery, New York and Los Angeles

1966 Wide White Space, Antwerp

1966 Galerie Schmela, Dusseldorf

1966 Stedelijk van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven

1966 Minami Gallery, Tokyo

1965 Galerie Schmela, Dusseldorf            

1965 Minami Gallery, Tokyo            

1965 Galleria dell'Ariete, Milan

1964 Dwan Gallery, Los Angeles  

1964 Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels

1963 Galerie Schmela, Dusseldorf

1960 Mudo Gallery, Tokyo


Making Dying Illegal, Architecture Against Death:  Original to the 21st Century. (in collaboration with Madeline Gins).  New York: Roof Books.  (November, 2006)

Le Corps Architectural(in collaboration with Madeline Gins). Paris: Editions Manucius, 2005.

Architectural Body (in collaboration with Madeline Gins).  Tuscaloosa:  University of Alabama Press, 2002. 

Reversible Destiny: We Have Decided Not to Die (Guggenheim Catalog)  (in collaboration with Madeline Gins).  New York: Abrams, Inc., 1997.

Arakawa and Madeline Gins.  ARCHITECTURE  Reversible Sites, Reversible Destiny (Architectural Experiments after Auschwitz-Hiroshima).  London:  Academy Editions, 1995

Arakawa and Madeline Gins.  The Mechanism of Meaning (introduction by Lawrence Alloway). 

Munich:  Bruckmann, 1971 (1st edition).  New York:  Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1979 (2nd edition).  New York:  Abbeville Press, 1989 (3rd edition).

Arakawa and Madeline Gins.  To Not To Die.  Paris:  Editions de la Différence, 1987.

Arakawa and Madeline Gins.  For Example (A Critique of Never).  Milan:  Alessandra Castelli Press, 1974.


“The Architectural Body – Landing Sites,” Space in America: Theory History Culture, (editors) Klaus Benesch and Kerstein Schmidt, Fall 2005.

“Gifu—Reversible Destiny” (in collaboration with Madeline Gins).  Architectural Design, Games of Architecture, 1996, pp. 27-35.

“Housing Complexity” (in collaboration with Madeline Gins).  Journal of Philosophy and the Visual Arts no. 6, Complexity, 1995, pp. 88-95.

"Landing Sites/The End of Spacetime." Arakawa and Madeline Gins. Art and Design, May-June, 1993.

"Person as Site in Respect to a Tentative Constructed Plan."  Arakawa and Madeline Gins. ANYWHERE, 1992, pp. 54-67.

"The Tentative Constructed Plan as Intervening Device (for a Reversible Destiny)."  Arakawa and Madeline Gins  A+U:  Architecture and Urbanism, December 1991, pp. 48-57.

Selected Articles & Reviews

“Design Innovation House: Reversible Destiny Lofts.”  Archiworld, 2006.

Femke Bijlsma.  “Come Si Rovescia Il Destino.” Casa, May 2006.

Mari Hashimoto.  “How to Live in Reversible Destiny Lofts with Directions for Use.”  Casa Brutus, February 2006.

Yoshihio Sano.  “The trial to cross-over.”  Japan Architect, February 2006.

Lawrence B. Nagy.   “Parcours vita a domicile.” Monde, February 26, 2006

Tomoko Otake. “Home sweet ‘death-defying’condo homes.” The Japan Times, January 15, 2006

Kay Itoi.  “The Discomforts of Home.” Newsweek International, December 19, 2005

Arata Takahashi.  Interview with Arakawa.  “Innovator File. No. 45: Warning to the Pursuit of Functionality (Reversible Destiny Urban City Concept.” Innovative One, July 13, 2005

Takeshi Matsuda. “Closeup: Building a Residence with Tubes, Spheres and Cubes.” Nikkei Architecture, May 2, 200

Joel David Robinson. “From Clockwork Bodies to Reversible Destinies (On the Architectural Experiments of Arakawa and Gins).” Art Papers, March/April 2005.

Lisa Licitra Ponti. “Arakawa + Gins. Living Bodies.”  Domus 879, March 2005.

Susan Stewart, “On the Art of the Future.” The Chicago Review, Winter 2004/2005.

Karen MacCormack.  “Mutual Labyrinth: A Proposal of Exchange.” Architectures of Poetry. Eds., Dworkin, Craig Douglas and Maria Eugenia Diaz Sanchez. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2004

Michel Delville.  “How Not to Die in Venice: The Art of Arakawa and Madeline Gins.” Architectures of Poetry. Eds., Dworkin, Craig Douglas and Maria Eugenia Diaz Sanchez. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2004

Michelle Delville. “How Not to Die in Venice: The Art of Arakawa and Madeline Gins” Reading the Illegible (Avant-Garde and Modernism Studies). (ed. by Craig Dworkin. Chicago: Northwestern University Press, 2003.)

Jean-Michel Rabaté, ed. “Architecture Against Death Architecture” Interfaces (21-22) A + G Special Double Issue, Fall 2003.

David Kolb.  Review of Architectural Body.  Continental Philosophy Review, 2003.

Patrick Pardo. “Regarding the Lives of Human Snails:  Arakawa/Gins and the Architectural Body.” 

The Daily NY Arts Newsletter.  May 15, 2003, p.1.

Aaron Kunin.  “Stay Alive:  Gins and Arakawa vs. The Grim Reaper.”  The Village Voice, January 15 – 21, 2003.

Joel David Robinson.  Review of Architectural Body. Parachute, April  5, 2003.

Geraldine McKenzie.  Review of Architectural Body.  How2, Spring 2003. 

Jeff Byles.  “The Reversible Destiny: Architecture of Arakawa and Madeline Gins.”  Plazm 27, 2002.

Mary Ann Caws “Taking Textual Time” Reimagining Textuality: Textual Studies in the Late Age of Print.  ed. by Elizabeth Bergmann Loizeaux and Neil Fraistat.  Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2002.

Arthur C. Danto. “Arakawa-Gins.”  The Nation, August 11/18 1997, pp.31-34.  Reprinted in The Madonna of the Future: Essays in a Pluralistic Art World.  New York:  Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000.  pp.265-272

Samira Kawash.  “Bodies at Risk- The Architecture of Reversible Destiny.”  PAJ 59, 1998, pp. 17-27.

Tom McEvilley. “Arakawa and Gins at the Guggenheim Soho.” Art in America, January 1998, pp. 100-101.

Gendai Shiso. (The Journal of Contemporary Thought –Tokyo), which devotes each issue to the work of a leading contemporary thinker, devoted its August 1996 issue to Arakawa/Gins.

Howard Smagula.  Currents: Contemporary Directions in the Visual Arts.  New Jersey: Prentice Hall, Inc., 1989

Italo Calvino. "The Arrow in the Mind," Artforum, September, 1985.

Charles Bernstein and Susan B. Laufer."Meaning the Meaning:  Arakawa's Critique of Space," Beauty and Critique (ed. by Richard Milazzo, 1983), 59-66.

Robert Creeley.  "'Some Place Enormously Moveable' - The Collaboration of Arakawa and Madeline H. Gins," Artforum, Vol. 18 (Summer, 1980), 60-65.

Arthur Danto. "The Mechanism of Meaning: Work in Progress (1963-71, 1978) " Print Collector's Newsletter, Vol. 10 (September, 1979), 135-136.