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​Sachiko Abe

Cut Papers


"The act of cutting is a constant exercise through which I organise and structure my random thoughts.The rhythm of the scissors, the fineness and the length of the paper strips correspond to the process of my thinking and it's effect on the body. While essentially personal, Cut Papers is a necessary practice for me to formulate my relationship to the external world."

At the opening of Leaving Language Sachiko Abe performed Cut Papers and created a site specific installation for The Metropole Gallery in Folkestone England.

Sachiko Abe sits cutting paper having obsessively practiced this activity in private but recently made it a public performance. With a calm and eery self containment that invokes fear, isolation and a hypnotic control; one in which the viewer is both intruder and collaborator. This is a paradox as the first artworks were created after leaving the Self Defence Forces in Japan because ‘the life of artists seemed so free.’ perhaps, this statement is a key to the evolution of the work.

Exploring regimes of subjectivity and cultural imposition, most explicitly with the continuing series, Cut Papers, this artist has created a surplus of material and meaning within an apparent simple aesthetic economy.

The edge of the page can be sharp enough to cut; metaphoricaly one set of words from another. Turning them carelessly while looking for a story, you might just find thoughts and fingers bleeding. An occasional injury encountered when the material reality of a word slices into your unprotected hands.

The works of Sachiko Abe called Cut Papers are durational and irrational, created through repetition that could be cutting an eternal revenge on the page and a story excluded from a white A4 sheet? A grammatology might have choreographed phrases and letters but instead this exists outside the paper. For Sachiko Abe the performance is in the vigil, a demonstration against words and calligraphy.


We must assume that if  the artist was a multiplicity, all the deposits of paper on Earth would be ravaged and returned to us as forms only written in the mind. Sachiko Abe is cutting up performance and history with an assault on the idea of mediation through text.

Sachiko Abe - Cut Papers - Leaving Language copy.jpeg

Sachiko Abe is continuously making the unique sculptural material that is Cut Papers, offering us a question; what is the role of a title? One word or sentence to describes an artwork or performance that ultimately frames your experience and leads to the inevitable abyss of mimesis.  Yet, clearly the artist is doing more than cutting thin strips of papers, however it could be reduced to this. We are invited to look again and ask "what is it?", the production of white strands as delicate as brushed hair with the sound of  amplified scissors to gnaw at your ear.

In immersive envelopes of acoustic traces, caused by particles torn asunder with blades guided by the subconscious precision of a magician. This sculpture organically grows both psychologically and physically with an audience witness and participant in a seance of sorts, like an uncanny encounter with a medium.

When Artist Tom Friedman claimed to have hired a witch to put a spell on the air above a plinth in a gallery, this accounted for it's name Untitled (A Curse), we understand this provocation as both bringing magic and conceptual Art into collision or even collusion.


In our minds the borders between things are diffuse and fragile and always susceptible to manipulation. Today's Facebook meme is tomorrow's rally and for Sachiko Abe the proximity of Art to madness could follow a line explored by Michel Foucault, who drew connections between the formation of a modern state and the regimes of ideological power in Europe that used religion as a weapon against the feminine who could occupy alternative spaces of knowledge.

In Japan shamanism is key to Shintoism and the Artist is drawing on a family history of practising shamans when inviting us to contemplate the invisible and the intangible in mountains made of paper.

During the opening of Leaving Language Sachiko Abe performed for the first time in black clothes with her back to the Sun.

Waugh Office was established in 2011 by Julia Waugh and Mark Waugh,

 as a hybrid platform curating exhibitions, events and publications internationally

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