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Spirited Away

ARTIST KOHEI NAWA BLURS THE BOUNDARIES BETWEEN PHYSICAL, DIGITAL AND SPIRITUAL WORLDS



People often stop in their tracks when they see Kohei Nawa’s “PixCell-deer.” These sculptures are taxidermied specimens covered entirely from hoof to antler tip in glass spheres. Encountering one is an eerily beautiful experience—as powerful as unexpectedly stumbling on a live deer in a forest.

Deer have been worshiped in Japan since ancient times. Believed to be messengers of Shinto gods, they are revered in centuries-old scrolls and paintings. Deer roam freely around the sacred grounds of Kasuga Shrine in the city of Nara and the island of Itsukushima in Hiroshima Prefecture.


While exploring Japanese auction websites for stuffed animals, Nawa found that the highest number of search results were for deer, affirming their symbolic and cultural importance in Japan. The baubles on his “PixCell-deer” fracture the surrounding light, bestowing the carcasses with an other-worldly aura, befitting emissaries of deities with auspicious tidings from the afterlife.


Image: PIXCELL-DEER#60 2019 MIXED MEDIA 2124×1795×1550 MM. PHOTO: NOBUTADA OMOTE | SANDWICH

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