February 7 – March 15, 2020
NOWHERE is pleased to announce the opening of $17 76¢, by New York based Japanese Jewelry designer / artist Kota Okuda. Redefining American currency by commodifying its value through the alchemistic system of fashion.
"I am interested in the inorganic humor found in today’s commodity culture, where the notion of value has become nebulous and distorted beyond recognition. I often wonder how this system of values has become so accepted and unchallenged—while also remaining keenly aware that I am playing a part in the game just like everyone else. Hence my obsession with American currency and what it means to consume. Through my work, I deconstruct the value of “value.”
My desire is to bring about a collision between high and low values through the perspectives of commercialism, advertisement, Duchampian conceptualism, and pop aesthetics. As far as inspiration goes, I often cite Karl Marx's critique of commodity fetishism in his book Das Kapital, Volume 1. Through the process of deconstruction, I look at the peculiar relationship we have with American currency. I then reconstruct it through the lens of my irreverent perspective as a tourist in this country.
As far back as I can remember, I have been attracted to the ephemeral nature of value in daily life and fascinated with the design and texture of the coins and banknotes of my home country. This life-long obsession with money has led me to dismantle the design elements of coins, banknotes, credit cards, wallets, pouches, and money clips. I savor the journey of creative transformation that takes place in this process. My jewelry background and my craft aestheticism have carried me toward a product-based approach where I value the tangible over the intangible. From making small things large and large things small, to using an eclectic mix of materials, I enjoy creating a visual and textural contradiction.
For this solo exhibition titled $17 76¢ (a reference to the year of America’s declaration of independence, which was also the birth of modern capitalism), I am presenting not only jewelry and dresses but also photographs, drawings, video, and installations including past and new works.
This is my monument to American commodity culture."
About Kota Okuda
Kota Okuda is redefining the boundaries of jewelry design and taking it in very new directions that are being embraced by new audiences and garnering accolades from remarkably diverse sources. In fact, he is seen an innovative and unique voice, bringing craftsmanship and technology together with philosophy and fashion to make something fresh that frankly has not been seen before.
He has been focused on jewelry design and its materiality from the time he started jewelry making at Central Saint Martins, London. Moving beyond traditional jewelry craftsmanship, he started to engage with contemporary fashion aestheticism and consequently to attract an American audience when he moved to New York to start his MFA in Fashion Design and Society at Parsons. From the strict attention to the very smallest details of jewelry design to life-size body costume making, his creative field expanded and he has established an outstanding position at the intersection jewelry and fashion design that is unique.
Okuda’s debut fashion collection at New York Fashion Week in September 2018 was a sensation and his next show at became a trending topic during New York Fashion Week SS19. From then, he started to receive countless reactions and inquiry requests include Kanye West, Rihanna and Farren Jean Andrea (Rihanna’s Stylist), Brett Alan Nelson (Nicki Minaj’s Stylist), Kollin Carter (Cardi B’s stylist), Tory Lanez, Tommy Genesis, Aquaria, Kimbra, Brooke Candy, Shannon and Shannade Clermont Twins, Samirah Raheem, Nicola Formichetti, Avena Gallagher, Veronica Vega and more influential tastemakers such as Paper Magazine, Office Magazine, Novembre Magazine, Notion Magazine, Schon! Magazine and New York Post.
KOTA OKUDA has a wealth of experience working in the jewelry industry in both New York and Tokyo while collaborating with various fashion designers.
The boundaries between fine art, fashion and applied craft fascinate Okuda and this space is the starting point that informs his design thinking. The balance of significance, purpose, value, materiality, scale and performance is important and considered throughout his process. He is hyper enthusiastic about investigating and understanding the history, context, material and techniques behind contemporary jewelry, art and fashion. His aesthetic contains classical and antique elements whilst having a contemporary twist with a sense of humor that allows his work to be accessible and fit into the wider art and design context.
Okuda’s fundamental creative focus is on combining traditional handcraft processes with hi-tech digital technologies, such as 3D modeling and printing. Okuda’s mission is to expand the imagination and possibility of jewelry design. Communication with the human body is a significant part of his design process and he explores the various possibilities of the relationship between jewelry and fashion. Okuda aims to expand the meaning of jewelry design in the social sphere rather than just within the jewelry communities and industries.
Originally from Niigata Prefecture, JAPAN, he received his undergraduate degree in Jewelry Design with first class honors from Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. Further achievements include winning the grant-prix prize at the International Talent Support in Jewelry Category (Trieste, Italy) and receiving the scholarship from Swarovski Foundation (London, UK). In 2018, He received a Master’s Degree in the MFA Fashion Design and Society from The Parsons New School, New York. He received Tomodachi-Uniqlo Fellowship Program (Uniqlo and US-Japan Embassy).
Official website: www.kotaokuda.com/