Güntherstr. 13–15,
47051 Duisburg

with works by
Erika Kobayashi
Jong Ok Ri
Kei Takemura
Yu Araki
Yuichiro Tamura

Yoshiko Inui, Video: Tim Kaiser, 2018 

It was a good 160 years ago that Japan reinvented itself. There was no alternative for the island empire. After all, the Western powers were at the door – with gunboats and a catalog of demands and so began a historically unprecedented process of rapid modernization. It encompassed all aspects of Japanese life: from family and gender relations to the educational system (school and university), the political constitution and administration, to industry and the military. As always, culture had the difficult task of mediating the stark tensions between tradition and innovation. This is why it is possible to reconstruct the history of modern Japan based on just one, albeit unique, item of clothing: the kimono.

Precisely because the kimono does not alter its shape, the patterns that adorn it must change. "Bizarre patterns" (this is what omoshirogara means) began to appear towards the end of the 19th century when fashion also began to incorporate modernity: railways, battleships, airplanes, cinema, Mickey Mouse, postcards, or even newspaper reports of military exploits. While some patterns celebrated an optimistic internationalism, others expressed quite frankly the imperialist colonial ambition of a country that sought to establish itself as a world power through territorial acquisitions. The increasingly darker symbolism of the late 1930s reflects Japan's nascent dealings with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.

The exhibition OMOSHIROGARA addresses Japan's modernization and its global entanglements through a close reading of kimonos from the collection of the textile historian and undisputed expert in the field, Yoshiko Inui (Prof.em., Tokai University, Sapporo). In addition to the kimonos, the exhibition shows works by five contemporary artists, Yu Araki, Erika Kobayashi, Jong Ok Ri, Kei Takemura, and Yuichiro Tamura, as well as historical materials, some of which belong to the DKM Collection. The modern era is far from over and lives on, though sometimes in disguise, in our global present. 


Can history be told following the guidance of a garment? Especially if "history" should suggest more than the mere recitation of facts or the stringing together of events?

Juban (Undergarment): Mickey Mouse, ca. 1930s, Yoshiko Inui Collection

more patterns


Erika Kobayashi, She Waited, 2019/2021, installation view, Museum DKM, 2021, photo: Christina Wild



23.01.2022 12:30 PM

Artist Talk with Kei Takemura

In her ongoing series “Renovated”, Kei Takemura wraps broken everyday objects with synthetic fabrics and stitches the damaged parts together with fluorescent silk threads. In this talk, Takemura in conversation with the curators will talk about her new works created for the exhibition in the context of Omoshirogara kimonos portraying the historical entanglement of the former Axis powers. 


The event will take place online. Please access here to attend the talk on Zoom.

Duration: 1 H · EN

30.01.2022 Talk 12:30 PM

Artist Talk with Erika Kobayashi

As a novelist, manga artist, and visual artist, Erika Kobayashi explores invisible entities, in particular, radiation and nuclear energy. Her installation “She Waited” (2019/21) interweaves the history of nuclear weapons and the geopolitics of the Olympic torch relay that started at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. In this artist talk, Kobayashi will talk with the curators about the background and making process of the work.


The event will take place online. Please access here to attend the talk on Zoom.

Duration: 1 H · EN

30.01.2022 02:30 PM

Guided Tour

Duration: 1 H · JP

30.01.2022 04:00 PM

Guided Tour

Duration: 1 H · EN