Japanese artist Sachiko Abe cuts fine strips of paper for hours on end in her performance series titled Cut Papers. Having first discovered the calming effects of shredding paper over 15 years ago while admitted at an insane asylum, the artist now explores the act’s meditative properties as an art form. Abe most recently performed Cut Papers #13 this year at the 18th Biennale of Sydney at Cockatoo Island.
Encircling herself in a fortress of tattered slivers of white paper, Abe says, “The act of cutting is a constant exercise through which I organize and structure my random thoughts.” It is through the repetitive, time-consuming process that the artist finds a peaceful state of mind. She goes on to say, “The rhythm of the scissors, the fineness and the length of the paper strip correspond to the process of my thinking, and its effect to the body. While essentially personal, Cut Papers is a necessary practice for me to formulate my relationship to the external world.
“The act defines and redefines the boundary between the self and the other, and helps to recover a meaningful relationship with one another. Complete silence and neutral white space allow the audience to focus purely on the sound of scissors and slight movement of the cut papers. The closed environment also invites the viewer to synchronize with the tide of emotion and contemplation created by the performance.”