Hermit crabs are famous for making a home of anything even remotely shell-like: old cans, shoes, toy buckets, and so-on. They’re the trailer trash of the crustacean world. Japanese artist Aki Inomata has made a calling of trying to class up hermit crabs by 3-D printing elaborate designer shells for them, but her latest work of crab art might be her best: a translucent recreation of a European-style cathedral, complete with parapets and flying buttresses.
Borrowing elements of both Gothic and Romanesque architecture, “White Chapel” is the third in Inomata’s Why Not Hand Over A Shelter? series of hermit crab shell designs. Although the 3-D printed church design looks European, it’s actually the kind of church you often see in Japan: the artist notes that despite Christians only comprising 1% of Japan, 60% of all Japanese weddings happen in Christian-style churches, even if the ceremonies are Shinto or Buddhist. So it made a perverse kind of sense to Inomata that a Japanese hermit crab get to live in one.
Beyond the whimsical nature of the work, the artist says that she intends “White Chapel” to function as sort of a commentary on cultural osmosis, especially in Japan. “When I visit Western countries, I sometimes notice [the origins of so many Japanese styles of] architecture, habits, foods, etc. In Japan, they would be transformed into local styles. And I ask myself, “Are we Japanese living in a mimicry of western world?” For me, these imitations, or I would say reproductions or rearrangements, of Western-style architecture seem to reflect an identity of post-colonialism inside of [the] Japanese people.” With her work, the artist seems to ask: isn’t every Japanese person, in his own way, walking around inside a shell that mimics a culture that isn’t quite his own?
[via Faith Is Torment]