Occupying the second floor galleries of the Noguchi Museum is Akari: Sculpture by Other Means made up of several installations allowing visitors to experience a modular ecosystem of lightweight, collapsible paper lanterns by Isamu Noguchi’s Akari and how these lanterns in turn transform and create space.
The origins of the lanterns go back to 1951 when, on a trip to post-war Japan, helped revitalise the local lantern industry by creating a modern lamp for export using the traditional washi paper (made by hand from the inner bark of the mulberry tree) and bamboo upon request of the mayor of the small town of Gifu City. Inspired by fishing lanterns on the Nagara River, Noguchi worked with local firm Ozeki & Co combining traditional paper lantern with electricity. He created more than 200 models of Akari, including an entire line for his exhibition for the American Pavilion at the 1986 Venice Biennale.
The installations in Sculpture by Other Means bring together the values of Akari: organisational, structural and ephemeral qualities of nature, and highlighting Noguchi’s concept of light as both place and object.