Rei Naito’s pillow for the dead 1998 (illustrated) offers a quiet memorial to those who have no-one to mourn their passing. The work’s miniature, gossamer form is a metaphor for the fragility of our existence. This tiny cushion of air woven in delicate organza and thread, small enough to fit in your palm, is fragile and almost weightless but absolutely precious — qualities the artist amplifies by presenting it alone, cradled by a pedestal within a larger volume of space.
Rei Naito ‘pillow for the dead’
As with all of Naito’s work, pillow for the dead exhibits a sensitivity to the preciousness of the small object, an extreme attention to detail and finish, and an awareness of the interplay of artwork and setting. The artist often houses her fastidiously executed sculptures and drawings in purpose-built structures that she creates herself, drawing on architecture and lighting as perceptual apparatuses that help stage the experience of the work for the viewer.