EXPIRED: 05/18/10 – Arakawa, 73, a Japanese-born conceptual artist and designer, rarely used his first name, Shusaku. Along with his wife Madeline Gins, he explored mortality by poems, books, paintings and, when they found clients, buildings, meant to stop ageing and avoid the very thing that got him posted in this blog – death. They called it ‘Reversible Destiny.’

“This mortality thing is bad news,” Gins said after Arakawa’s passing, adding that she would redouble her efforts to prove “ageing can be outlawed”.

Their most recent work, a house on Long Island, had a steeply sloped floor that threatened to send visitors careening into its kitchen. It featured more than 36 paint colors; level changes meant to induce the sensation of being in two places at once; windows that seemed too high or too low and oddly angled light switches and outlets.

All of it was meant, the couple explained, to lead its users into a perpetually “tentative” relationship with their surroundings and, thereby, keep them young.

Arakawa thought all hospitals should be made in a similar fashion.

Arakawa met Gins as they collaborated on 83 large canvases called The Mechanism of Meaning, eventually shown at the Guggenheim Museum’s SoHo branch in 1997. The paintings were considered a bridge between Dada and Fluxus, and the New York Times noted that “their philosophical or linguistic puzzles can stretch the mind in briefly pleasant ways”.

Born in Nagoya, Japan, and schooled in Tokyo, Arakawa moved to New York in 1961. He met Gins in 63, and they married in 1965.

The couple basically lost everything with Bernie Madoff’s investment fraud’s and were forced to close their office. But their art was never about the money. It was about morality.

“It’s immoral that people have to die,” Gins said.

And to live without the one you love.




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