An Exhibition Unearths Rare Production Drawings from the Futuristic Neo Tokyo of the Anime Classic ‘Akira’
Katsuhiro Otomo’s 1988 sci-fi classic Akira has had an unparalleled influence on anime and film, and an exhibition at the Tchoban Foundation in Berlin showcases the original drawings that brought its futuristic cyberpunk setting to life. Akira – The Architecture of Neo Tokyo features 59 production backdrops, layouts, concepts, and image boards, many of which have never been shown publicly. The collection includes now-iconic works by art director Toshiharu Mizutani and collaborators Katsufumi Hariu, Norihiro Hiraki, Shinji Kimura, Satoshi Kuroda, Hiromasa Ogura, Hiroshi Ōno, Hajime Soga, Tsutomu Uchida, and Takashi Watabe.
Otomo first released the dystopian story as a manga series in 1982 before turning it into the highly influential action film a few years later. The narrative follows characters Shōtarō Kaneda, the telekinetic Tetsuo Shim, and their friends, who navigate the imagined Japanese metropolis of Neo Tokyo with its neon streetlights, crumbling infrastructure, and unrelenting post-apocalyptic vibe.
Ahead of the exhibition, curator Stefan Riekeles also released the book Anime Architecture: Imagined Worlds and Endless Megacities. The volume contains fantastic scenes from various animated classics including Ghost in the Shell and Metropolis. You can see Akira – The Architecture of Neo Tokyo through September 4, and according to It’s Nice That, the show might travel to London next.
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Thin, interlaced strips of Japanese paper, gold leaf, and the occasional watercolor detail extend the life of a broadsheet when in the care of French-Canadian artist Myriam Dion (previously). Through slicing, weaving, and gluing, the daily publications find new meaning and relevance as the artist overlays their pages with intricate lace patterns. These precise motifs obscure much of the text, leaving only a prominent headline or single image entirely visible. Painstakingly constructed, Dion’s works question the notion that news is inherently fast-paced and fleeting and instead, offer visual depth, dimension, and intricacy that mirrors the nuance of the stories she highlights.
Using pages from Le Monde, The New York Times, and other organizations, Dion draws on both historical and current events in her most recent pieces. A winding, pleated form responds to the unyielding destruction of the Dixie Fire in California with cuts evocative of flames emerging from its folds. Another accordion-style piece commemorates the late Ruth Bader Ginsberg and her nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1993, with black-and-white photos of the justice trimmed in gold.
“The revaluation of the handmade and the contemporary dimension of the craftsman are intrinsic to my approach,” the Montréal-based artist tells Colossal, likening her process to cultivating flowers or a vegetable patch. “There are many parallels to be drawn between gardens and my practice, especially in regards to contemplation, mediation, temporality, and the idea of beauty.”
Dion’s solo show Material Knowledge, which runs from June 30 to August 13 at Arsenal Contemporary in New York, will include a new work featuring a 1929 article announcing MoMA’s opening paired with references to women textile artists and crafters. She’s also preparing for an exhibition at Blouin-Division that will expand on the gardening metaphor and emerge from vintage botanical books. Until then, follow her latest projects, which will include a few upcoming public works, on Instagram.
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The basis of life for many species, seeds hold immense power for reproduction and population. Whether a descendent of the first specimens that appeared approximately 400 million years ago or a modern hybrid cultivated to increase food production, the generative forms are often visually striking in their own right with otherworldly colors, textures, and shapes.
Photographer Thierry Ardouin showcases these marvelous, strange qualities through hundreds of striking macro shots now compiled in a forthcoming book and exhibition. Positioned against stark black or white backdrops, the specimens are primarily derived from the carpological archives of the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, although some come from the International Agricultural Research Centre for Development and the Straw Cereal Biological Resource Centre. This wide-ranging collection includes the veiny, coiled moon trefoil, snake-like scorpion vetch, and small-bur marigold with its prickly body and horns.
The idea for the project germinated more than a decade ago when Ardouin was working on a documentary about French agriculture and discovered that large corporations own the patents to many seed varieties. He explains:
In 2009, in a very particular political context regarding undocumented immigrants, I noticed that there were ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’ seeds. The question arose : does a “legal” seed look like an “illegal” seed? But seeds are tiny and, to see them, I had to get close to them and make portraits of them, as I would do for human beings.
He’s documented approximately 500 specimens since, half of which appear in the pages of Seed Stories to be released this month from Atelier EXB. Spanning 336 pages, the volume is a testament to the incredible diversity and resilience of the natural world. Many of the photos are also included in a group exhibition opening on June 18 at the CentQuatre Paris, which will pair the images with seeds from the National Museum of Natural History collection that visitors can touch and even taste.
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A glimpse into Konekono Kitsune’s workspace in Tokyo likely resembles a farmer’s market stand more than a fiber studio. Using countless layers of thread and the occasional felt base, the artist stitches curly kale, collard greens, and other fare that bear a striking likeness to their real-life counterparts: dense tufts in green form broccoli florets, a broad bean pod splits open to reveal a soft downy inside, and tight rows line the undulating surface of a sweet potato.
In a note to Colossal, Konekono Kitsune shares that their grandmother frequently embroidered, although they only began working in the medium a few years ago. “I’m not a farmer, and I’m not particularly good at cooking. I happened to embroider vegetables and got convinced. Embroidery threads are great for expressing vegetable fibers,” they say.
For more of the artist’s produce-based works, visit Instagram.
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I celebrate the wins. I know the darkness in this world, so do you. It can drag us down. And when I post, positive messaging is key for me. To share light and love and to look at the world as vibrant and colourful as it can be….It’s reflected in my textiles, to uplift narratives often tethered to dark undertones, with the gift of bright hues. I’m not asking anyone to “smile”, because life will hurt. But hold onto your light… keep grasp of your love.
For Saunders (previously), celebrating love is not grand, abstract, or impossible to grasp. It’s as honest as a single strand of thread. Close-ups of her textiles, rug-tufting, and punch-needle works reveal what it means to paint with fabric—that is, to embrace the fluidity of color and create intricacy in its different shades, not taking the versatility or collective power of the individual pieces for granted. The artist’s attention to detail adds depth, dynamism, and life to each scene so that the subjects are captured in their full essence.
In The Four Queens, Saunders draws on the tradition of Art Nouveau, a period of art history specifically concerned with capturing feminine beauty and radiance. Though the artist felt an attraction to the 18th-century tradition, she couldn’t form a genuine bond with the material because of its severe underrepresentation. The heart of these whimsical scenes, the epitome of angelic beauty, was often a white face. And so, Saunders set out to create her own style: Black Nouveau.
In this approach, the essence of beauty is “Black Dreams,” “Black Power,” “Black Love,” and “Black Magic.” Powerful prints that paint the skies of each scene are reminiscent of African motifs in which stories are told through patterns and color. Saunders keeps true to her roots here and offers a connection in a genre that’s typically been limited.
Works like “Excellence” show that the gaze is the point of entry and also the home of Black liberation; where it is nurtured, where it grows, and where we are known. Whether it’s the kind expression of the “Queen of Diamonds” slouching loosely on her throne or the peering side-eye of the “Queen of Hearts,” Saunder’s works emanate the femininity, leadership, power, and joy of Black womanhood.
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Editor's Picks: History
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.