Red Stair 2003

Red Stair, 2003

Velvet, foam, wood, roller

80(h) x 40(w) x 30(d) in

In collaboration with Thread for Art, I organized FASHION is ART, a cross-cultural, multi-faceted project including runway performance and exhibition in the Bumbershoot festival in Seattle, storefront installations, and a book publication. In Red Stair, I explored the parallels between body, form, photography and sculpture, inspired by Japanese fashion designers such as Issay Miyake, Rei Kawakubo and Yoji Yamoto. Superimposing geometry on the human body transposed my porcelain stair into the realm of fashion and performance.


red stair

by fionn meade

The notion of fashion as transgressive is so well-worn it has become a cliché. There is constant pressure to outmode, jump forward or reach back. Though showing one’s individuality is done in part through adornment and flourish, trespass has become the new order, and increasingly,
the body is as likely to be altered as the hemline. Red Stair represents a departure for Nakamura. The dictates of strict form and negation are still present, as are a number of warning signs in keeping with her style — field of red, evening gown formality, blank visage. Superimposing geometry on the human figure is not a new idea; fashion designers such as Rei Kawakubo and performance director Robert Wilson, among others, have done so to wonderful effect. What is new, however, is the refinement of the invitation. The train of a dress is replaced with a staircase, a kind of overture to trespass. Are we to approach or keep our distance? From trespasses on the body, the viewer’s ascent/glance is pushed back from the figure even as it runs to it. We are deflected from desiring the human body just as we are compelled to contemplate it. The sculptural form declines our embrace as the invitation is extended and then revoked.