The Luxury Journal


We discovered the artwork of Kennedy James and was one of these cases of love at first sight;
Victorian chairs tied up in Bondage, sphynx cats tattooed like Jakuzas... wonderfull, a mix of concepts pretty visual and absolutely awesome.

After hours devouring all the content we found on her work, we realized that it was not enough, we wanted more, so much more and decided to try to contact the artist to satisfy our curiosity.

The Luxury Journal: Could you make a quick presentation for our readers?

Kennedy James: I am a self-taught French visual artist. I came to live in the USA in 2007.
I've always been fascinated by the Japanese culture as I grew up in a family very much interested in Asia. So my work have been influenced by Japan for a long time now.

TLJ: When came the idea of ondage? Any inspiration or influence?

KJ: The project idea of the Serial Bondage installations came in 2003.

I think I was very much influenced by the work of Nobuyoshi Araki then and at that time my artwork also became very much more sensual and corporal.

I like the idea that in the Japanese culture, Shibari (rope bondage) is like architecture or sculpture.. it's about beauty and zen… about making the body a sculpture by transforming it. It is really about sensual beauty, human beauty and not so much about sex (the sexual notion of bondage came when the American culture incorporated the Japanese culture of Shibari in the 50s or so)

The first installation I've made was in 2006 while I was doing an art residency in a big castle in France. 2 years later I did the first miniature version of the installation series.

The installation series consists in Victorian chairs/armchairs tied up and harnessed in the ancient art of Japanese Shibari (rope bondage). The chairs used are usually of Louis XV,  Napoleon III or Voltaire style,  because of their voluptuous design that makes the piece very anthropomorphic.

Shibari is an ancient Japanese form of erotic and aesthetic expression. It is a sophisticated,  complex and technical ritual; the physical representation of the dominative/submissive relationship found at every social level of Japanese society.  The practice has more in common with sculpture and corporal architecture than simple sensual practice.

As in every other Japanese ritual (like ikebana/floral arrangement, the tea ceremony, the art of wearing a kimono),  Shibari is about ancestral rules and strict aesthetic standards. These rituals illustrate a typical desire of the Japanese culture: restrain the nature in order to control the wild aspect of life.

Originally the Shibari art was used by soldiers (in the pay of Samurais) to immobilize war prisoners.  During the Edo period (1600-1868) it became a method of punishment and a strict code began to govern its use.

The rope had different colors corresponding to the time of the year and the position of prisoner depended on the time of season. During centuries the rules evolved to where the colors of the rope and the bondage pattern would reflect the profession,  type of crime and social position of the criminal.

TLJ: Tell us more about your way of working, the process of creation.

KJ: I'm a bit lazy… haha

I think a lot about new ideas, try to find inspiration in music, movies or other great artists I see and then I fill my little book with ideas, but then it takes me years to actually start working on one of those ideas.

I'm not one of those artists who constantly work on their projects every day of the week in their big studio, I don't even have a studio! But I wish I was an artist like that.. always working, always pushing themselves… but I'm more of the kind of waiting for the inspiration muse to visit me really. Let the flow of ideas come to me.

I actually used to work a lot on my projects when I was younger and had all the time in the world, but with years my work process has changed and it takes me more time now, mostly because I don't have all the time in the world anymore.

TLJ: Could you tell us about your future projects? What is the next step?

KJ: I want to work on some sculpture projects with clay.

I want to produce the 'Shirokuro' installation project as miniature as well (within glass domes like the serial bondage series). I will make a white doe and tied it up in bondage/shibari.

I would also like to work on little sculptures of the drawing series 'Irezumi Sphynx' which consists of hairless cats covered with yakuza style tattoos.

I would love to produce all those pieces in porcelain but I will have to experiment quite a bit first as I don't really have much experience with clay.

TLJ: Where can we find your work? (Galleries, exhibitions, etc)

KJ: You can find my work (most of my serial bondage pieces) at the gallery nine5 in NYC.

The Yamamoto Gendai gallery in Tokyo also have a couple of serial bondage drawings as well as the installation I made for the solo show I had there back in 2008.

I used to be represented by a gallery in Paris since 2008 but we broke up last month actually and as I am not exclusively represented by anyone anymore, I decided to open an Etsy store, where I will be selling more drawings and the sculpture projects I was talking about (hopefully very soon).

We hope you enjoyed this interview as much as we enjoyed ourselves doing it.