The Vader Project in Japan

Bonnie Burton | July 18, 2008

The Vader Project, an exhibit featuring the reimagined visions of the iconic Darth Vader helmet by some of today’s hottest pop and underground artists, is currently on display July 19-21, 2008 at Star Wars Celebration Japan — at Makuhari-Messe in Chiba just outside Tokyo to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Star Wars.

The Vader Project is curated by Dov Kelemer and Sarah Jo Marks of DKE Toys. Kelemer and Marks gathered close to 100 of the hottest underground and pop surrealist painters, artists and toy designers to participate. Each artist was given a 1:1 scale authentic prop replica of the actual Darth Vader helmet used in the Star Wars films. Each helmet served as a blank canvas for each artist to paint, design, mash up, and customize.

To kick off Celebration Japan’s display of The Vader Project, I chatted with curator Dov Kelemer about the new additions to the lineup.

Why did you decide to bring The Vader Project to Celebration Japan?
Another Celebration was planned in Japan and based on its past popularity Lucasfilm and the show promoters asked Sarah Jo and I to take the show over to Japan.

How many helmets will be featured in the exhibit for Celebration Japan?
All of it… should be around 95 pieces total including a little more than a dozen new pieces from Japanese based artists. The show keeps getting bigger and it’s getting harder and harder to send it around the world so this is probably going to be pretty close to complete.

How did you go about deciding which Japanese artists best suited the exhibit?
It’s always a difficult choice as there are so many great artists out there in Japan. We decided to stick to the game plan of featuring artists who are somehow involved in the underground art world with an emphasis on the art toy designers. There are so many great toy designers in Japan and we got some of the best I think. Bounty Hunter (BXH) was really a great addition because they were one of the first to create designer vinyl toys in this new art toy movement.

What are you most excited about in showing your exhibit at Celebration Japan?
It’s always great to see the crowd’s reaction. When we first showed the exhibit for C4 in Los Angeles we could never have anticipated the overwhelmingly positive response that the show received. So we are very excited to present the show to the Japanese Star Wars community.

Additional comments?
Darth Vader and Jedi in particular are based on the Samurai so it will be great to see what these new Japanese artists and designers decide to do with their new canvas.

Click here to learn more about The Vader Project.

Be sure to check out all the photos from the exhibit here:
PHOTOS: The Vader Project at Celebration Japan

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