The Japanese practice of applying golden pigment to cracks in ceramic objects—known as kintsukuroi (golden repair) or kintsugi (golden joinery)—finds beauty in the broken, celebrating rather than disguising flaws, calling attention to the value of an object’s passage through time. The technique uses lacquer and powdered gold, silver, or platinum to fill the cracks.
Brooklyn artist Rachel Sussman applies this method of aesthetic repair to broken surfaces that are much larger in her Sidewalk Kinstukuroi series. Sussman mends city pavements using tree-sap-based resin dusted with bronze and 23.5-carat gold. She also hand-paints enamel and metal repairs onto photographs of fissures in New York City streets. And in February 2017 she applied resin treated with gold dust to cracks in a marble floor in Iowa’s Des Moines Art Center.
Sussman’s painstaking process of gilding can take weeks, and the repairs themselves are fleeting. Says the artist, “They will be walked on and scuffed, and eventually overwritten with something else. Such is the transient nature of everything in the universe. All the more reason to value the time we have.”