Emerging in the late 1960s and early 1970s, he quickly established himself at the forefront of the loose cohort of artists, now known as Mono-ha, who radically redefined postwar Japanese art through their ephemeral interventions into both institutional and everyday spaces. Often working with raw natural and industrial elements, Suga gained recognition for installations such as Parallel Strata (1969), a fortress-like configuration of slabs of paraffin wax that subtly deformed in response to the environmental conditions at the venue, and Infinite Situation II (steps) (1970), for which he altered the function of a stairwell at the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, by covering its steps with sand smoothed to reflect the grade of the incline. Such works were conceived by Suga as “situations,” or expansive fields where objects engage each other through relations of fundamental equality and interdependence. According to Suga, the elements of a situation exist in a state of “being left” that activates viewers by its very resistance to being processed as information. In denying the agency of the artist, this vision was an early argument for the agency of all things.
Kishio Suga Writings, 1969-1979 is the first volume in an authoritative anthology of translations that will, for the first time, offer English readers a thorough understanding of Suga’s thought. It features the trilogy of formative texts Suga wrote in 1968-69 under the penname Katsuragawa Sei; fragmentary statements published in the exhibition listings section of the magazine Bijutsu Techo from 1972 to 1981; and groundbreaking essays spanning the 1970s.
This volume also includes a substantial introductory essay by Andrew Maerkle on the theoretical implications of translating Suga, along with commentary by Maerkle on each of the translated texts, and a glossary of Suga terms. Additionally, an essay by Ashley Rawlings addresses the history of the translation of Suga’s artwork titles. Illustrations of Suga’s works appear throughout.