Artists in Conversation: CFGNY and Wataru Tominaga

November 22, 2022
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Join fashion and art collective CFGNY and designer Wataru Tominaga for a talk delving into their artistic practices and the works featured in their new exhibition, Refashioning: CFGNY and Wataru Tominaga. Moderated by Dr. Yuniya Kawamura, Professor of Sociology at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, this conversation will highlight the artists’ distinctive, yet shared approaches to exploring fashion as a medium to initiate broader dialogues.

Refashioning: CFGNY and Wataru Tominaga, the first exhibition devoted to the art of contemporary fashion at Japan Society, explores the work of two emerging fashion labels that engage with the intersections between fashion, art and identity. Featuring garments, accessories, sculpture and video, the exhibition examines the ways in which these two practices—one based in New York and the other in Tokyo—experiment with artistic mediums beyond conventional forms of dress, while challenging preconceived notions of gender and identity.

The New York based fashion-art label CFGNY (Concept Foreign Garments New York) began in 2016 as an ongoing dialogue between Tin Nguyen and Daniel Chew on the intersection of fashion, race, identity, and sexuality. Joined by Kirsten Kilponen and Ten Izu in 2020, CFGNY continually returns to the term “Vaguely Asian” — an understanding of racial identity as a specific cultural experience combined with the experience of being perceived as other. Through topics including the meaning of the Japanese term kawaii, their collections, art projects, and installations continue to explore the ongoing dialogue that seeps through the entire body of Asian-American art.

Wataru Tominaga is a Tokyo-based fashion and textile designer, best known for his distinctive textiles using vibrant colors and patterns. Born in 1988 in Kumamoto, Japan, Tominaga is trained internationally, including at the Chelsea College of Art, Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, Bunka Fashion College, University of Art and Design Helsinki, and Musashino Art University. He has worked under established design houses, including John Galliano for Maison Margiela, Eddie Peak, and BLESS. In 2016, he won The Grand Jury Première Vision Prize at The 31st International Festival of Fashion and Photography in Hyères and has since collaborated with brands, including Petit Bateau and Marimekko. For his eponymous fashion label established in 2019, Tominaga designs unisex garments that feature playful motifs and graphics inspired by wide-ranging time periods and cultures.

Yuniya Kawamura is Professor of Sociology at the Fashion Institute of Technology (F.I.T.) and Visiting Professor in the Graduate School of Design at the Polytechnic University of Milan. She is the author of The Japanese Revolution in Paris Fashion (Berg 2004), Fashioning Japanese Subcultures (Bloomsbury 2012), and Fashion-ology (2005, 2018) which has been translated into several foreign languages including Italian, Swedish, and Russian. Her most recent publication is Cultural Appropriation in Fashion and Entertainment (Bloomsbury 2022). Her research interests include fashion theory, haute couture, youth subcultures, ethnic dress, indigenous needleworkers, and social sustainability. She earned a PhD in Sociology from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) at Columbia University and was also professionally trained in fashion design and technical design at Bunka School of Fashion in Tokyo, Kingston University in London, and F.I.T. in New York.

Image: © CFGNY, New Fashion II, 2018; Courtesy of CFGNY. Photograph by David Brandon Geeting; Wataru Tominaga, Untitled from 31st Hyères Mode Festival 2016, 2015 Courtesy of Wataru Tominaga

Refashioning: CFGNY and Wataru Tominaga is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Japan Society programs are made possible by leadership support from Booth Ferris Foundation and Shiseido Americas. Exhibitions and Arts & Culture Lecture Programs are made possible, in part, by the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Endowment Fund; the Mary Griggs Burke Endowment Fund established by the Mary Livingston Griggs and Mary Griggs Burke Foundation; The Masako Mera and Koichi Mera, PhD Fund for Education and the Arts; Peggy and Dick Danziger; Thierry Porté and Yasko Tashiro; and Friends of the Gallery. Support for Arts & Culture Lecture Programs is provided, in part, by the Sandy Heck Lecture Fund. Transportation assistance is provided by Japan Airlines, the exclusive Japanese airline sponsor for Japan Society gallery exhibitions.

  • Tuesday, November 22, 2022
  • 6:00 pm
  • In-Person Event
  • Free Event