The beauty of a non-functional object

Butsu Butsu, Collection by Genichiro Inokuma


猪熊弦一郎的藏品範圍極廣極雜——鋸子、運送雞蛋用的木箱、剪刀、老舊的玩具,更多是根本無法命名的東西。書中沒有對藏品下任何解說,也沒有嚐試探研當中的歷史,只有攝影師Homma Takashi,以及造型師的岡尾美代子在拍攝時的簡單對話,例如:









Japanese Artist Genichiro Inokuma resided in Paris before the Second World War, and moved to New York after it was over. He has a habit of collecting objects that charm him from places where he resides. Being surrounded by these objects provides nourishments to his daily life and creativity. The objects are currently kept in the Marugame Genichiro-Inokuma Museum of Contemporary Art, with Butsu Butsu being the catalogue of his collection.

Inokuma has a hugely diversified collection that includes a saw, a crate for transporting eggs, scissors, and some old toys. It is almost impossible to categorise his collection items. It is not the attempt of the book to elaborate the use or the history of the objects; all that is written are only simple dialogues between Homma Takashi, the photographer, and Miyoko Okao, the stylist, during the shooting. For instance:

Okao: Oh, I got it! The idea is to place irrelevant objects side by side.

Okao: Stapler.
Takashi: Rabbit stapler.
Okao: Indeed.

Okao: The handwriting is cute.
Takashi: It’s cute indeed.

It may appear trivial at the first glance, but the dialogues are precisely their impulsive reaction when encountering the objects.



In the preface of his book The Era of Craft for Everyday Life, the artisan Ryuji Mitani interprets a stack of price tags from kimono shop by saying, ‘When the supposedly practical objects suddenly turn dysfunctional, and become dissociated from its original purpose, they begin to present to us an absolute materiality’. That can also explain how Butsu Butsu aroused my interest. Moving from their own era to the present where they misfit, the objects are liberated from their original purpose; we can therefore finally treat them as objects with the purest fundamental aesthetics.

The utility value of an object is lost along with the changing of eras, but its intrinsic aesthetics is in turn unleashed.