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Akio Nagasawa Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of Mari Katayama’s new artworks exhibition leave-taking.
Mari Katayama was born in 1987 and raised in Gunma, Japan. Graduated with a Master’s degree in Department of Intermedia Art at Tokyo University of the Arts in 2012. Since then, she has created numerous self-portrait photography together with embroidered objects and decorated prostheses, using her own body as a living sculpture. Her belief is that tracing herself connects with other people and her everyday life can be also connected with society and the world, just like the patchwork made with threads and a needle by stitching borders.Her major exhibitions among the many include, Home Again, 2021 (Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, France), Reversible Destiny, Australian and Japanese contemporary photography, 2021 (Tokyo Photographic Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan), 58th Venice Biennale, 2019 (Giardini and Arsenale, Venice, Italy), Broken Heart, 2019 (White Rainbow, London, UK). She received the 35th Higashikawa Award for The New Photographer category in 2019 and 45th Kimura Ihei Photography Award in 2020. On this occasion the exhibition all the works from her new series “leave-taking” will be on view. The exhibition will be accompanied by her newest photo-book Mother River Homing published by Akio Nagasawa Publishing.
Five years have passed since I made the series “shadow puppet,” “bystander” and “on the way home,” which together I refer to as a trilogy.
These five years came with some significant changes in my life and my living environment, such as giving birth to and raising my daughter, and moving the base of my creative activities to what is in fact my first own atelier. It seems that these changes have also affected my work.
When my baby daughter started crawling, I stowed away needle and thread for her safety, and after finishing the series “cannot turn the clock back – gift” I refrained from making new objects.
Instead, I began to take photographs around the Ashio Copper Mine and the Watarase River near my hometown, and also in hotels on business trips. Meeting a trustworthy lab technician further inspired me to work with photographic film.
I also had my first solo show, participated for the first time in an international art exhibition, and published my first photo book overseas, all opportunities for directing my attention to the outside world as well as to my previous works.
I’ve always been acutely aware that I am able to create works because my body is alive and well, and I hope my body will continue to serve me. However, the more I go out into society, the more I feel the headwind of the “correctness” required of that body. Taking my camera with the mirror it contains and pointing it at this “society” or “other people” as a mirror, results in an infinity mirror kind of situation. It appears to me that this infinity is where truth exists.
The world is made to fit “correct bodies.” For me, the objects I was making were substitutes for such a “correct body.” While my body’s existence is not valued by society, my artworks are appreciated.
This has allowed me to feel that I’m just a mannequin in my photographs, there to promote my objects which are the actual “works of art.”
In “leave-taking #010,” the light that slowly flooded my room during the long-exposure shots covers my objects like a veil of both love and hate. The love that enabled me to create them in the first place slowly turns to hate as their rising value as artwork estranges them to me, my body remaining without value to society.
In my daily life during these five years, however, I couldn’t really rely on my objects. (After all, they don’t do my work for me, and they don’t pay my electricity bills!)
I guess it is through our body that we encounter everything that happens. This body is the only one I have, and whether I live or die has nothing to do with it being correct or incorrect.
The so-called “glare effect” occurs when opposing rays of light collide, making objects between them disappear. This is also similar to the infinity mirror effect.
For me, the hope is now that doing away with the blinding idea of a “correct body” will clear the way for the light to travel straight and unrefracted.
b. 1987 Gunma, Japan
1987 born and raised in Gunma, Japan. Graduated with a Master’s degree in Department of Intermedia Art at Tokyo University of the Arts in 2012. Suffering from congenital tibial hemimelia, Katayama had both legs amputated at the age of 9. Since then, she has created numerous self-portrait photography together with embroidered objects and decorated prostheses, using her own body as a living sculpture. Her belief is that tracing herself connects with other people and her everyday life can be also connected with society and the world, just like the patchwork made with threads and a needle by stitching borders.
In addition to her art creation, Katayama leads “High heel project” in which she wore customized high-heeled shoes specially made for prosthesis to perform on stage as a singer, model or keynote speaker. The motto of this project is to take advantage of any means including art and disabled bodies if it helps to expand the “freedom of choice” for those in desperate need.
Her major exhibitions include, "leave-taking" (Akio Nagasawa Gallery, Tokyo, Japan, 2021), "Home Again" (Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, France, 2021), “58th Venice Biennale 2019” (Giardini and Arsenale, Venice, Italy), “Broken Heart” (White Rainbow, London, 2019), “Photographs of Innocence and of Experience-Contemporary Japanese Photography vol.14” (Tokyo Photographic Art Museum, Tokyo, 2017), “On the way home” (The Museum of Modern Art, Gunma, 2017), “Roppongi Crossing - My body, your voice” (Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, 2016), “Aichi Triennale 2013” (Nayabashi, Aichi), etc. Public collections include La Maison Rouge (Paris, France), Collection Antoine de Galbert (Paris, France), Mori Art Museum (Tokyo, Japan), Arts Maebashi (Gunma, Japan) and Tokyo Photographic Art Museum (Tokyo, Japan). She received the Encouraging Prize of Gunma Biennale for Young Artists in 2005, Grand Prix of Art Award Tokyo Marunouchi in 2012, Higashikawa Award for The New Photographer category in 2019 and Kimura Ihei Award in 2020. Her major publications include "Mother River Homing" (Akio Nagasawa Publishing, 2021) and "GIFT" (United Vagabonds, 2019).
Mother River Homing
This photobooks collects images from the trilogy series shadow puppet, bystander and on the way home.
During Mari Katayama’s exhibition leave-taking, the book will be on sale at a special price.
A photograph is (as if I knew what I’m talking about…) something really strange I think. I don’t believe a photograph because everything in it is a lie. The only thing that I believe is that there exists a certain “truth” between the subject and the photographer (or the person who set up the camera). Different from the intimacy of the needles and brushes that are close to me, the ”truth” is like the force of solitude that pushes two bodies away from each other so they can’t become one, no matter how hard they embrace each other. So what exactly is that “truth”? A photographic film is developed, and the picture is printed or stored as digital data. It appears to me that there is a reason for every aspect of the process – the camera, time, processing, and sometimes the necessity to involve other people. The more of these things there are, the stronger the “truth” gets. ”We were certainly there” – this is what I feel, and I think this inspired me to photograph my friends and make them “bystanders” in the form of photographs and other objects in my work.
– Afterword by Mari Katayama
Akio Nagasawa Gallery is pleased to announce that Mari Katayama’s photo-book published by Fondation Antoine de Galbert in France, is now available for purchasing. You will find at our online shop, are exclusively hand signed by Mari Katayama.
When purchasing please be aware that there may be some damage on the cover caused by the shipping from France. The inside of the book is in perfect conditions.