Japanese artist Mari Katayama (born 1987) features her own body in a provocative series of works combining photography, sculpture, and textile. Born with a developmental condition, she has only two fingers on one hand and had both her legs amputated at the age of nine; she has worn prosthetics ever since. In order to fill a deep gap between her own understanding of self and physicality, and contemporary society’s simplistic categorizations, Katayama began to explore her identity by objectifying her body in her art. Katayama treats her entire body, bodily parts, and prosthetics as “materials” to be arranged in photographs, read as soft sculptures, and decorated with lace, shells, and shiny objects. As the protagonist in intricately arranged narrative scenes, the artist invites the viewer to voyeuristically experience a private space developed from her imagination. Katayama’s work exposes anxieties that haunt many of us—disabled or nondisabled—living in an age obsessed with body image. One of the most exciting new artists emerging from contemporary Japan, Katayama’s work is featured this year’s Venice Biennale in Italy. Her exhibition at UMMA, Mari Katayama (on view October 12, 2019–January 26, 2020), will be the artist’s first solo exhibition in the U.S. The talk will be moderated by Natsu Oyobe, Curator of Asian Art at UMMA and the exhibition curator.
This program is co-presented by the Penny W. Stamps Speaker Series, the Stamps Gallery, and the University of Michigan Museum of Art.