EST. 2009

January 12, 2016

That Golden Recovery

CLOSING THE GAP BETWEEN FUNCTION AND ORNAMENTATION, Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold-infused lacquer. The practice adheres to the philosophy of treating breakage and repair as natural parts of an object's history, rather than incidents whose evidence is to be concealed.

While essentially functional, Kintsugi is appreciated for imparting new aesthetic qualities onto objects. The Washington Post even suggests that in its origin days, Japanese collectors "developed such a taste for kintsugi that some were accused of deliberately breaking prized ceramics, just to have them mended in gold." Such acts would be contrary to both Kintsugi's philosophy and origins, but perhaps deliberate breakage is just another kind of event in an object's lifespan.

Contemporary artist TJ Volonis conducts studies on Kintsugi, applying the joinery techniques to sculpture and reclaimed tiles. Mixing lacquer with pure silver or 24-karat gold, the resulting pieces seem devoid entirely of function, while also leaving ambiguous whether the breakage was deliberate or incidental. Gold-mended marble or slate look more like objets d'art than building material, and the ceramic heart labelled "Not For Sale - Collection of the Artist" sounds precious and prized.

In a culture where disposable items, fast fashion and quick technological turnovers are the norm, a good repair is ever so rare. Breakage is inevitable with objects, as with anyone or anything. Hearts not exempt.

Mend the cracks. Join pieces back into a whole. Just think of Kintsugi should you ever feel embarrassment, guilt or shame over a recovery. A good history is golden, however flawed.

Repaired Heart, Kintsugi Study #4) and Kintsugi Study #2 by TJ Volonis,