Jurgen Lehl The End of Civilization

2017.8.5(Sat.) - 2017.11.5(Sun.)



2017.8.5(Sat.) - 2017.11.5(Sun.)
10:00 - 18:00 (until 20:00 on Fridays and Saturdays)


Galleries / 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa
Galleries 5, 13


Mondays (open on Aug 14, Sep 18, Oct 9, Oct 30), and Sep 19 (Tue.), Oct 10 (Tue.)


Adult: ¥1,000 (¥800)
University: ¥800 (¥600)
Elem/ JH/ HS: ¥400 (¥300)
65 and over: ¥800
*( ) indicate advance ticket and group rates (20 or more).
*Common tickets with the exhibition "Everyday Life – Sign of Awareness"

For More Information:

21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa
Phone: +81-76-220-2800
Facsimile: +81-76-220-2802
E-Mail: info@kanazawa21.jp

Designer Jurgen Lehl (1944-2014) lived at one with nature and continually reminded people of its preciousness. As his “last work” in life, he chose to engage with serious environmental problems, and he created beautiful lighting implements from plastic garbage washing up on beaches. In this way, the harmful plastic which cannot return to the soil instead illuminates spaces and once again serves people usefully. Along with Jurgen Lehl’s lighting implements, the exhibition also displays the “babaghuri” agates that Lehl long hunted and collected, fascinated by each stone’s unique beauty. “The End of Civilization” is a symbolic exhibition, imparting the message of respect for nature Jurgen Lehl left to us when he died suddenly in 2014.

Artist Profile

  • Photo: MINAMOTO Tadayuki

    Jurgen Lehl

    German, born 1944 in Poland.
    Jurgen Lehl moved to Japan in 1971.
    He founded Jurgen Lehl, a fashion textiles company including accessories and jewelry next year. He also designed furniture and other items for the home.
    In 2006 he started to design ecologically responsible, handmade products for Babaghuri.
    He passed away in 2014.

Related Programs

  • Jurgen Lehl collecting the plastic garbage on the beach of Ishigaki Island
    Photo: TAHARA Ayumi

    The End of Civilization

    Fifteen years have passed since I began spending a third of each month at my beachside house in Okinawa. I till the field and I ponder new ideas for creating things. In the intervals, I go down to the beach in front of my house to walk the dog and get a change of air. Such is my routine, but every time I go down, I am filled with a mixture of anger and sadness. Walking on the sandy beach, I enjoy picking up beautiful shells or pieces of coral, but more than shells and coral, what I find are large quantities of trash that has washed ashore. Sometimes, to my delight, I happen on an old glass float. But mostly, what I find is ugly plastic debris ... pieces of styrene foam, plastic bottle caps, detergent receptacles, cheap toys, and so on. Some of this trash is Japanese and some has drifted ashore from other Asian countries. Whenever I find it, I pick it up, but the next day I find more. Eventually I came up with the idea of collecting all this trash, sorting it by color, and creating something with it. I wanted people to know—so much trash washes ashore, I can fabricate things with it. The other day, when traveling, I had a chance to visit the beach at Yonaguni. While walking in the sand, I had the oddest feeling something was not right. Thrusting my hand into the sand, I scooped some up to inspect it and got a shock. Mixed in with the sand were countless particles of plastic, about the same size as the sand grains. It looked like a beautiful beach from afar, but this is what it had become. We human beings had done this. It was the end of civilization ... the thought struck me with real force. Although not Japanese, I have lived here more than 40 years. I remember Japan when it was still beautiful. If I can, I hope to live in this country the rest of my life. Which is why I want everyone to know—that Japan has gotten this dirty, that we need to clean up this trash, and how important it is to live without producing trash. This is an issue not only for Japan. It is something I would like to tell the whole world. As everyone perhaps knows, there is trash we can see and trash we cannot see. If either continues to grow, it will mean the end of civilization. The earth is also working hard to clean itself, but our collective efforts as individuals can go a long way towards cleaning up the environment. If I can do something to make people aware of this, now is the time to act. This, I feel strongly. Simply showing people all that ugly plastic trash may not get them to understand its actual horror. If so, then I will create something I think is beautiful, not just beautiful objects but something practical, able to serve people usefully once again. This is but a small act of resistance on my part, as someone who creates things for a living. To draw people’s attention to the great volumes of plastic trash. I consider this my last job in life.



Organized by:

21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa (Kanazawa Art Promotion and Development Foundation)