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The Silk Road, 2021

mixed media installation

For her first exhibition in Japan, Anna Boghiguian depicts a narrative based on the history of Japan’s silk industry, which is renowned throughout the world.

The Silk Road, known as a trade route between East and West, began before the common era. It was also a route that connected Egypt and Japan. Buddhism was also introduced to China from India via the Silk Road, and eventually to Japan. Boghiguian sees the Silk Road as not only a trade route, but also “an intellectual, spiritual, and cultural road.” The development of the sericulture and silk manufacturing industries, which brought prosperity to the Japanese economy during the Meiji period, had a great deal to do with the Meiji government policy of enriching the country and strengthening the military, as well as boosting industrial development. The government-run Tomioka Silk Mill, established in 1872, also employed a French engineer, Paul Brunat (1840-1908), while French women were responsible for the education of the silk workers. The labor of these women was indispensable to the spreading of the silk manufacturing industry throughout Japan, and the Itohiki Uta (literally, song of silk spinning), which is included in Yamamoto Shigemi’s (1917-1998) book Ah, Nomugi Pass, gives us a glimpse of the sorrows of such hard labor.

Boghiguian is interested in the fact that behind the industries that contributed greatly to the nation’s acquisition of foreign currencies and economic development, there was the hard labor of girls who helped to support their impoverished households. She is also fascinated by the fact that the spirit and technology of Toyoda Sakichi (1867-1939), who completed Japan’s first power loom in 1896 and continued to contribute to the silk industry through his numerous inventions, was linked to that of Toyoda Kiichiro (1894-1952), Sakichi’s eldest son and the founder of Toyota Motor Corporation, which has developed into a global automobile manufacturer today.

On display are these stories, consisting of twelve paintings suspended from the ceiling with numerous silk threads and twenty-four drawings and a map on the walls. The relationship of individuals to the fate of nations and their eras, as well as that of the world to events in specific regions, emerge in Boghiguian’s grand narratives.

Anna Boghiguian, The Silk Road, 2021, mixed media installation, installation view: Another Energy: Power to Continue Challenging – 16 Women Artists from around the World, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, 2021, photo: Furukawa Yuya, photo courtesy: Mori Art Museum, Tokyo
Anna Boghiguian, The Silk Road, 2021, mixed media installation, installation view: Another Energy: Power to Continue Challenging – 16 Women Artists from around the World, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, 2021, photo: Furukawa Yuya, photo courtesy: Mori Art Museum, Tokyo
Anna Boghiguian, The Silk Road, 2021, mixed media installation, installation view: Another Energy: Power to Continue Challenging – 16 Women Artists from around the World, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, 2021, photo: Furukawa Yuya, photo courtesy: Mori Art Museum, Tokyo
Anna Boghiguian, The Silk Road, 2021, mixed media installation, installation view: Another Energy: Power to Continue Challenging – 16 Women Artists from around the World, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, 2021, photo: Furukawa Yuya, photo courtesy: Mori Art Museum, Tokyo
Anna Boghiguian, The Silk Road, 2021, mixed media installation, installation view: Another Energy: Power to Continue Challenging – 16 Women Artists from around the World, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, 2021, photo: Furukawa Yuya, photo courtesy: Mori Art Museum, Tokyo
Anna Boghiguian, The Silk Road, 2021, mixed media installation, installation view: Another Energy: Power to Continue Challenging – 16 Women Artists from around the World, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, 2021, photo: Furukawa Yuya, photo courtesy: Mori Art Museum, Tokyo
Anna Boghiguian, The Silk Road, 2021, 24 parts, mixed media on paper, photo: Ladislav Zajac
Anna Boghiguian, The Silk Road, 2021, 24 parts, mixed media on paper, photo: Ladislav Zajac
Anna Boghiguian, The Silk Road, 2021, 24 parts, mixed media on paper, photo: Ladislav Zajac
Anna Boghiguian, The Silk Road, 2021, 24 parts, mixed media on paper, photo: Ladislav Zajac
Anna Boghiguian, The Silk Road, 2021, 24 parts, mixed media on paper, photo: Ladislav Zajac
Anna Boghiguian, The Silk Road, 2021, 24 parts, mixed media on paper, photo: Ladislav Zajac
Anna Boghiguian, The Silk Road, 2021, 24 parts, mixed media on paper, photo: Ladislav Zajac
Anna Boghiguian, The Silk Road, 2021, 24 parts, mixed media on paper, photo: Ladislav Zajac
Anna Boghiguian, The Silk Road, 2021, 24 parts, mixed media on paper, photo: Ladislav Zajac
Anna Boghiguian, The Silk Road, 2021, 24 parts, mixed media on paper, photo: Ladislav Zajac
Anna Boghiguian, The Silk Road, 2021, 24 parts, mixed media on paper, photo: Ladislav Zajac
Anna Boghiguian, The Silk Road, 2021, 24 parts, mixed media on paper, photo: Ladislav Zajac
Anna Boghiguian, The Silk Road, 2021, 24 parts, mixed media on paper, photo: Ladislav Zajac
Anna Boghiguian, The Silk Road, 2021, 24 parts, mixed media on paper, photo: Ladislav Zajac
Anna Boghiguian, The Silk Road, 2021, 24 parts, mixed media on paper, photo: Ladislav Zajac
Anna Boghiguian, The Silk Road, 2021, 24 parts, mixed media on paper, photo: Ladislav Zajac
Anna Boghiguian, The Silk Road, 2021, 24 parts, mixed media on paper, photo: Ladislav Zajac
Anna Boghiguian, The Silk Road, 2021, 24 parts, mixed media on paper, photo: Ladislav Zajac
Anna Boghiguian, The Silk Road, 2021, 24 parts, mixed media on paper, photo: Ladislav Zajac
Anna Boghiguian, The Silk Road, 2021, 24 parts, mixed media on paper, photo: Ladislav Zajac

mixed media installation, dimensions variable
installation views: Another Energy: Power to Continue Challenging – 16 Women Artists from around the World, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, 2021
Photos: Furukawa Yuya, Photo courtesy: Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Ladislav Zajac
Text: Mori Art Museum, Tokyo

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Anna Boghiguian

Anna Boghiguian was born in Cairo, Egypt, in 1946 and has Armenian roots. She studied political and social science at the American University of Cairo and holds a BFA in fine arts and music from the Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. Since the early 1970s, her art has emerged from various movements around the globe, translating a nomadic experience and gaze into painting and installation, collages and books. As a traveling artist, she tells of how people and ideas, relationships and goods vary and evolve, sometimes bright and fluid, sometimes bound in inequality and oppression. Boghiguian's broad insight into literature and worlds of thought makes her art a profound source of contemplation. In 2015 Boghiguian received the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale. Her work has been featured in major solo exhibitions around the world, most recently at SMAK, Gent (2020), Tate St. Ives (2019), the New Museum (2018) and the Museum der Moderne, Salzburg (2018) and in numerous international group shows including the 22nd Sydney Biennale (2020), Castello di Rivoli, Torino (2019), the Museum of Modern Art, New York City (2017) and the dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel (2012).



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