Multi-talented conceptual artist 南村杞憂 Namura Kiyu (formerly known as Yuna Kimura), whose acrylic plate artworks and accessories we introduced last year in grape Japan, is fascinated by the ephemeral nature of language.

Reproduced with permission from Namura Kiyu (@jocojocochijoco)

"I consciously seek to inscribe my works with everyday language and traces of communication which easily appear then disappear, as well as candid, casual phrases," she explained in our interview. Her engagement with language naturally extends to net culture and social media, with many of her works not only reflecting the current zeitgeist but also the digital traces of her personal life and interactions with consumer culture.

For example, some of her past works have included:

  • Clear acrylic Buddhist altar and mortuary tablet inscribed with a posthumous Buddhist name scrambled like buggy digital characters
  • Handkerchiefs embroidered with a tanka poem formed from the insults spoken to a partner she had a fight with
  • A neon sign-like display with idiotic words
  • A work of art using a mirror printed with the averaged face assembled from photos of men she met through dating apps, through which viewers can not only see themselves superimposed on the image of numerous random men but also have the vicarious experience of "seeming to look at someone else but actually looking at yourself"
  • A work of art intended as an homage to consumerism in which glass panels engraved with the buggy scrambled names of men she met through dating apps are packaged, stamped with barcodes and individually displayed.

She created a moment on her Twitter account featuring some of these works:

The temperature of irony

The artist has recently found herself in the spotlight again, this time for a necklace she created just in time for Christmas:

"I made a 4℃ necklace."

Reproduced with permission from Namura Kiyu (@jocojocochijoco)

Reproduced with permission from Namura Kiyu (@jocojocochijoco)

Her necklace faithfully reproduces the look of outdoor temperature displays which you can often see in Japan, such as this one:

Flatpit | © PIXTA

The displayed temperature of four degrees Celsius is read as yondo.

However, the irony of her creation lies in the fact that 4℃, pronounced yondoshi, also happens to be a major Japanese jewelry brand. While they also have a more high-end bridal jewelry line, their affordable jewelry selections have made them one of the most popular go-to choices for Christmas presents offered to women in Japan. For example, a recent article in Fashion Press has them at the top of their ranking of "Christmas jewelry" gift ideas for 2020.

Her post quickly went viral, gathering almost 250,000 likes and 37,000 retweets at the time of writing, along with numerous plaudits for her idea.

Some of the wittier (and punnier) comments her post elicited were:

  • "I had to look at that four times" [a pun on yondo which can also be read as "four times"]
  • "In other words, yondo see" ["see" written in English]
  • "Even though it's 4 degrees Celsius, this has become quite a hot topic!"
  • "Are you thinking of making a fundoshi necklace too?" [fundoshi is a loincloth]

The positive reaction prompted her to post a follow-up message on her second account announcing that the necklace was available to order:

"[Now accepting orders] These 4℃ necklaces now available on a made-to-order basis. They're 3,500 JPY + 300 JPY shipping [domestic]. Please DM @arimoshinaikoto if you're interested. If we're overwhelmed with orders, we may need to stop, so please act quickly."

Along comes a kusoripu

However, not all reactions to Namura's post were unequivocably laudatory. There were also a few comments which fell into the category of kusoripu クソリプ, literally a "shitpost." One, in particular, by Twitter user Busta バスタ (@Busta_46) caught the artist's attention. In a now-deleted Tweet he wrote: "Do you seriously think that's interesting?"

But instead of getting upset, Namura saw an opportunity to turn it into the kind of conceptual art she is most adept at.

"Here's Twitter double-cropping:"

Reproduced with permission from Namura Kiyu (@jocojocochijoco)

Reproduced with permission from Namura Kiyu (@jocojocochijoco)

If it's not clear from the image, she took Busta's Tweet and immediately proceeded to turn it into a collection of apparel on her online store (which you can buy here). The astonishing speed of her creativity and her decision to turn the comment into a commercial product created a second viral buzz, gathering 148,000 likes and 26,000 retweets at the time of writing.

But the story doesn't end there. In a heartwarming conclusion to this mini-drama which played out online, Busta, far from being angered by having his Tweet turned into a T-shirts and hoodies, praised the artist and became an instant fan:

"I think it's hilarious that you took my worthless shitty reply and made it into a product (LOL). You even pixelated me (lol). Thank you! I'm going to buy one! Also, I'd like a non-pixelated version, so please consider making one!"

If you go and visit Busta's Twitter account, you'll see that he's replaced his profile background with Namura's pixelated screen cap of his Tweet and put the text of the Tweet as his profile.

All's well that ends well...

Crowdfunding campaign

If you'd like to support Namura Kiyu's artistic endeavors, there is still time to participate in her successful crowdfunding campaign on Campfire, "This_is_an_ex-xxxxfire," now at nearly 150%, in which she is selling works in a project intended as the anti-thesis to an unfortunate experience she had with a stalker. The collection for sale includes digital records of the convenience store and other receipts she kept during the time she was unable to return to her apartment, a fictional motel key, and other works. The project ends on December 30th.


Reproduced with permission from Namura Kiyu (@jocojocochijoco)

Consignment sales

Consignment sales at the following shops:

Online sales

If you're interested in purchasing any of her other works shown here, please contact Namura Kiyu through DM on her Twitter account @arimoshinaikoto.

By - Ben K.