"I am looking for a new definition of perfection."
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"
Biography2010 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, Tokyo1985 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.