Mari Katayama is a polymorphic artist: she combines the use of sculpture, sewing, photography and performances to create an intimate yet unsettling work of art which compels the spectator to question its own relationship to the body.
Afflicted as a child with a congenital illness that, at age nine, required partial amputation of her legs, Mari Katayama transcends this condition in her work, transforming it into a driving force that incites the viewer to rethink social norms and beauty standards.
Her early self-portraits are performed or idealised versions of herself, alternate realities in which she appears in elaborately constructed sculptural environments decorated with life-size dolls and objects intricately embroidered or incrusted with crystals and seashells.
Katayama’s total control over these excessive and beautiful constructions as well as her picturing of herself with them, militate against conventional notions of “disability”. As such, Mari Katayama reveals herself to be a truly complete artist, one whose relationship to the camera is not only fundamental but also experimental and boundary-breaking.
This exhibition is co-organised by the Kyotographie festival and the Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris.
Born in Saitama Prefecture, Japan, in 1987 and raised in Gunma Prefecture, Mari Katayama graduated from the Gunma Prefectural Women’s University before obtaining a master’s degree from the Tokyo University of the Arts. Featured prominently in the 2019 Venice Biennale, her work was also the subject of the recent solo show On the Way Home at the Museum of Modern Art, Gunma; other exhibitions include those at the Aichi Triennale (2013) and Roppongi Crossing at the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2016). She was also honoured with the Tokyo Marunouchi Art Award in 2012, the Higashikawa New Photographer Award in 2019 and the Kimura Ihei Award in 2020 for her photobook Gift (Tokyo, United Vagabonds), published in 2019.