Yukimi Akiba: Timeless Knot
Sometimes you come across an Instagram post seen in endless scrolling and it stops you in your tracks. For me, that was the case with the exquisite work of Yukimi Akiba. And as tomorrow is Christmas, you can add her work to your Christmas list as many of the works are for sale on her website. We featured Akiba’s powerful project, The Body As Unraveled, last year, where she literally stitched her response to the societal and cultural pressures of beauty, sexuality, and femininity into Polaroids.
The work we are featuring today, Timeless Knot, is an exquisite elevation of found photos on postcards. The embroidered cards are a form of therapy and self discovery, as she states, “a way of not physically harming herself or others, a way of rebuilding what she had lost in her life by trauma, and now it helps relate her and the realities.” Each one is a unique piece of magic that focuses on unknown women who lived and died in the past, using countless French Knot stitches that look like “bubbling colorful threads”.
Yukimi Akiba lives in Japan, working with mixed media and embroidery as her main medium. She created a series of Polaroid self-portraits, Creative ‘Self’ Destruction, from 2019-2021. Her work played an important role as a way to reconstruct what she lost in her life due to illness and trauma, which led to her current style that allows her to relate herself to others and reality.
Since spring 2019 Yukimi Akiba has thrown herself into her creative/emotional world but isolated herself from people and the real world instead. For Yukimi, art played an important role as therapy for illness, a way of not physically harming herself or others, a way of rebuilding what she had lost in her life by trauma, and now it helps relate her and the realities.
Follow Yukimi Akiba on instagram: @ykm_12.44_
Tell us about your growing up.
I feel like my life was once over at some point, so I am not sure how to talk about it. What would you like to know? I feel like I’m about 4 or 5 years old now, lol….
I was in a photography school as a teens, but I dropped out after less than a year.
How long have you been collecting vintage photographs?
After I stepped away from self portraits using Polaroids, maybe since early 2021. I am not a collector, I just buy them to embroider or whatever. I don’t really buy things that people want. I am always looking for unsold items.
How did you start making this work?
When I decided to step away from Polaroid, I asked myself whether I wanted to stop or continue creating. But I knew that if I was to keep working, I wanted to use materials as environmentally friendly that would make as little waste as possible. At that time, I found people embroidering vintage photos on social media and started.
The other is that I wanted to relate to the “other” at the time. For me, using vintage photographs means that I have to have respect for photographers and models who lived and died in the past. I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to learn how to relate to others after that period of lonely and destructive creation. That encouraged me to start.
Have you ever thought about going larger?
I am always driven by the desire to make it bigger, to get it out of the frame. Periodically that desire comes, for example, when I changed from Instax to Polaroid, and from Polaroid to photo or book page, etc.But thinking about if someone wanted to welcome my work, I think postcard size would be easier to display. So I mostly make them in a smaller size.
What is next for you?
To be honest, all this year, I have been lost as a maker, what I want to make and where I want to go. But I would like to embroider not only on paper, but also on 3D objects such as trash and plastic bags, etc. In any case, I hope to get involved in the issues that are happening on this planet with what I make.
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