Takahashi Mizuki: international contemporary art curator
Takahashi Mizuki is a leading Japanese curator of contemporary art. Her current role is that of Executive Director and Chief Curator of the Centre for Heritage, Arts and Textile (CHAT) in Hong Kong, but her esteemed career has seen her serve as a founding curatorial member at Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, and as Senior Curator at Contemporary Art Center, Art Tower Mito, in Ibaraki Prefecture.
Takahashi’s curatorial interests are wide-ranging, encompassing a variety of themes, ideas and disciplines. During her MA studies in History of Art, she focused on the seemingly disparate specialisms of the Italian Renaissance and shōjo manga (manga aimed at girls), at Waseda University in Tokyo and The School of Oriental and African Studies in London, respectively. Takahashi has realized numerous trans-disciplinary exhibitions that incorporate various artistic forms such as manga, film, fashion, architecture, performance and contemporary art and which address socio-ethical subjects such as gender, cultural politics, and environmental concerns, amongst others.
Following a Research Fellowship at Central Saint Martins, The University of the Arts London, from 2015 to 2016, Takahashi relocated to Hong Kong to join CHAT. The textile arts centre is housed in a former cotton spinning mill of Nan Fung Textiles in Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong and was opened to celebrate and convey the history and innovative legacy of Hong Kong’s textile industry. Through the exhibition and event programmes at CHAT, Takahashi highlights the key role of craftsmanship and labour in textiles.
A perfect example of this curatorial approach is the exhibition Sudō Reiko: Making NUNO Textiles (23 November 2019 – 1 March 2020) curated by Takahashi, which presented the work of the renowned Japanese textile designer Sudō Reiko. In preparation for the exhibition, Takahashi visited some of the factories that have realized Sudō’s designs, in Gunma, Yamanashi and Shiga prefectures. The factory visits prompted her to contemplate: “How do you articulate an atmosphere of labour and process to product-driven societies? And who is to redirect the attention that these labourers deserve?” When the exhibition opened, rather than merely showing the finished works, it immersed visitors in the rich creation process behind each selected textile, shining a light on the small family-run workshops where skilled craftspeople bring Sudō’s designs to life.
A version of this exhibition which expands on the themes of sustainability of regional manufacturing, materials, traditions and craftsmanship – MAKING NUNO Japanese Textile Innovation from Sudō Reiko – is presented at Japan House London from 17 May to 11 July 2021. Hear Takahashi speak about the exhibition in the video of our online event MAKING NUNO at Japan House London: Online Panel Discussion.
Takahashi’s other curated exhibitions include Eight Days: Beuys in Japan (Art Tower Mito, 2009, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, 2011), Quiet Attentions: Departure from Women (Art Tower Mito, 2011), and Darren Almond: Second Thoughts (Art Tower Mito, 2013). She also writes and gives lectures worldwide.