The tatami is a Japanese floor mat with dimensions based on the human body. It is one of the four ‘platforms’ featured in the series of installations Platform. Body/Space. During this evening, art historian Sophie Berrebi will present the research behind Platform. Body/Space and professor Carola Hein will give a lecture on the history and cultural significance of the tatami. Read the text of the lecture by Carola Hein.
Berrebi’s research focuses on how four ‘platforms’ – the yoga mat, beach towel, tatami and prayer rug – mediate between our bodies and the surrounding space. To coincide with the third part of the four-part series Platform. Body/Space, Dr. Sophie Berrebi talked about her research and prof. Carola Hein discussed the historical and contemporary significance of the tatami in Japanese architecture. She also drew associations with Western architecture. Shofukan performed a tea ceremony, allowing visitors to experience one of tatami’s traditional uses. Moderator of the Thursday Night will be Flora van Gaalen.
The tatami emerged in the twelfth century and since the eighteenth century has been used in temples and in one or more rooms in Japanese homes. But the tatami is more than just a floor covering. The dimensions of a tatami mat are based on the human body: according to legend, the tatami represents the space a Samurai needed to lay out his possessions and sleep. In Japan, houses are still measured in numbers of tatami mats. Comparisons have been made with Le Corbusier’s Modulor, although the tatami is not merely an architectural unit of measurement. Enveloped by rules and rituals, the tatami creates a specific social space, which is visible in, among other things, the traditional Japanese tea ceremony.
In a series of four installations, Platform: Body/Space explores four modest ‘platforms’ and how they connect the human body with the surrounding space: the yoga mat, the beach towel, the tatami and the prayer rug. The series focuses on the material and symbolic meanings of these platforms within a range of cultural contexts.
Sophie Berrebi is a writer, art historian and curator. She is the author of The Shape of Evidence. Contemporary Art and the Document (Valiz, Amsterdam, 2015), and editor of Entrée en matière: Hubert Damisch et Jean Dubuffet, textes et correspondances 1961-2001 (JRP|Ringier / La Maison Rouge, Paris, 2016), a summary of which appeared in the journal October. She is on the editorial board of the new scholarly journal Stedelijk Studies. She received her doctorate from the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London in 2003, and since then has taught art history and theory at the University of Amsterdam. She is currently working on the publication Elements of Fashion: Icons, Gestures, Details.
Carola Hein is Professor of the History of Architecture and Urban Planning in the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment at Delft Technical University. She studied at the Institut Supérieur d’Architecture de l’État La Cambre in Brussels and the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Hamburg, where she gained her doctorate. Her current research interests include the communication of architectural and urban-planning ideas via international networks.