in English.


“How much of this is you and how much is not you? Who do I and you belong to, and where are we?” (Mari Katayama)

At the core of Mari Katayama’s practice is living everyday within her own body, which she uses as a living sculpture, mannequin, and a lens through which to reflect society. In her elaborate self-portraits, she places herself within a mountain of painstakingly-realised objects such as a life-sized doll and decorated boxes made by herself. The combination of Katayama’s hand-sewn objects, sculptural pieces and photography challenges viewers to question the body and its complex relationship with the surrounding environment and society.

After the amputation of her lower legs due to tibial hemimelia at the age of nine, Katayama hid her physical impairment so that she could live like “everyone else.” It was only at the age of sixteen that she consciously started to create and see herself as an artist. Since then, Katayama has used her body, which keeps changing its shape, size and roles in society, as a creative agent to approach, reflect and connect to the society as well as her own curiosity towards the common obsession and desire for (artificially created) beauty.

At the same time, Katayama’s creative activity gradually expanded from photographing self-portraits in her own room to going outdoors, photographing other people’s bodies and inviting the help of others’ hands. To name just a few, in 2016, she frequently went to the island of Naoshima to create the “bystander” series, in which she photographed the hands of puppeteers at a female-only Bunraku puppet theatre company, to develop a collection of photographs and the hand-sewn objects. This was the first time for Katayama to feature other people’s bodies in her work. And in 2023, the second edition of Katayama’s High Heel Project (the project itself was started in 2011) saw completion of the completely custom-made high heels through long-term collaborative work with many individuals and corporations. These experiences, combined with the gradual expansion in her working style, made Katayama realise the difficulty and power of “living together,” but also that she cannot say she owns her body, whose vitality is only made possible by numerous people and support mechanisms. These include prosthetists who know her body better than she does, social support from the disability welfare system, and her family and friends.

Although Katayama’s work takes personal matters as its starting point, these personal matters are not Katayama’s themes. The essence of the questions and perspectives that emerge from her works and her activities are always directed towards society.

Katayama says: “I am not aware that the person in the self-portraits is myself. There is something in me which is the same as you. I am you.” This leads one to question who is pictured in the portraits, and who their body belongs to. It also leads one to reflect on why they might think in this way. Today, individuals can easily post and share images through social media, such as their appearance, whereabouts, behaviours and even their past doings. “How much of this is you and how much is not you? Who do I and you belong to, and where are we?” The answer to these questions seems to have become even more unclear.

Katayama’s images and objects engage viewers in fundamental questions about the body, and the complex issues around bodies such as biased gazes, social labels and what is considered correct or incorrect. Just as Katayama feels when she proceeds with making objects stitch by stitch with a needle and thread, experiencing her work could allow viewers to confirm their contours, shapes and roles in society, as if reflecting them into a mirror. Mari Katayama (b. 1987) lives in Gunma, Japan. In addition to her creative activity as an artist, she works as a fashion model, singer, and keynote speaker.

Katayama has been awarded numerous prizes including the prestigious Kimura Ihei Award in 2019. Over the last fifteen years her work has been included in around fifty international solo and group exhibitions.

1987 Born in Saitama, raised in Gunma, Japan
2010 B.A., Gunma Prefectural Women’s University, Gunma
2012 M.F.A., Tokyo University of the Arts, Tokyo

[Solo Exhibition]
2023 “Cavern”, Gallery ETHER, Tokyo
2022 “possession”, Fugensha, Tokyo
2022 “Mari Katayama solo exhibition”, Kaunas Photography Gallery, Kaunas
2021 “leave-taking”, Akio Nagasawa Gallery, Tokyo
2021 “home again”, Maison Europeenne de la Photographie STUDIO, Paris
2021 “Vieraita itsellemme – Strangers to Ourselves”, Pori Art Museum, Pori
2020 “home again”, Shimadai Gallery – KYOTOGRAPHIE 2020, Kyoto
2019 “Mari Katayama”, Irving Stenn, Jr. Family Gallery, University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor
2019 “Broken Heart”, White Rainbow, London
2017 “19872017”, Gallery Gateaux Festa Harada, Gunma
2017 “On the Way Home”, the Museum of Modern Art, Gunma
2016 “Self-portrait and object”, Renaiss Hall, Okayama
2016 “Artist in Rokku vol.3 Mari Katayama / bystander”, Miyaura Gallery Rokku, Naoshima (in conjunction with the Setouchi Triennale 2016)
2016 “Shadow Puppet – 3331 ART FAIR recommended artists”, 3331 gallery, Tokyo
2015 “25 days in tatsumachi studio”, Robson Coffee (Arts Maebashi), Gunma
2014 “you’re mine”, Traumaris | Space, Tokyo
2014 “Mari Katayama solo exhibition”, Kitchen Gallery, Paris
2009 “Mari Katayama solo exhibition”, Gallery J, Gunma
2008 “Mari Katayama solo exhibition”, Slow Time, Gunma

[Group Exhibitions]
2023 “LOVE: Still Not the Lesser”, The Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago
2023 “Body Politics”, Torrance Art Museum, CA
2023 “Ragusa Foto Festival”, Palazzo Cosentini, Ragusa
2023 “Living A Performance Artist’s Life: 2023 Performance Art Documental Exhibition”, MadeIn Art Museum, Shanghai
2023 “Mirror of self created by Hangar within the framework of PhotoBrussels Festival”, HANGAR Photo Art Center, Brussel
2022 “Contemporary Art Festival CHAOS : CALM”, Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, Bangkok
2022 “JAPAN. BODY_PERFORM_LIVE Resistance and Resilience in Japanese Contemporary Art”, PAC Milano, Milano
2022 “Okayama Art Summit 2022 : DO WE DREAM UNDER THE SAME SKY”, Okayama, Japan
2022 “Latent Scenery”, Arts Maebashi, Gunma
2022 “Empowerment”, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Wolfsburg
2022 “Fashion Is a Verb: Art, Performance, and Identity”, William Paterson University South Gallery, NJ
2021 “Look! Revelations on Art and Fashion”, Marta Herford Museum for Art, Architecture, Design, Deutschland
2021 “Reversible Destiny Australian and Japanese contemporary photography”, TOP museum, Japan
2021 “ART for SDGs: Kitakyushu Art Festival Imagining Our Future”, Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art, Japan
2021 “The 45th Kimura Ihei Award Exhibition: Mari Katayama and Daisuke Yokota”, Nikon Salon THE GALLERY, Japan
2021 “HOME/TOWN”, Art Museum and Library, Ota, Japan
2021 Group Exhibition, Okawa Museum of art, Japan
2021 Collection Exhibition, Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art, Japan
2021 “Anneke Hymmen & Kumi Hiroi, Tokuko Ushioda, Mari Katayama, Maiko Haruki, Mayumi Hosokura and your visions”, Shiseido Gallery, Japan
2020 “Jimei x Arles International Photo Festival”, Xiamen Jimei?Citizen Square Exhibition Hall, Three Shadows Photography Art Center Xiamen,?China
2020 “Transhuman From Prosthetics to Cyborg”, Museum Ulm, Deutschland
2020 “LIFE”, Contemporary Art Museum Kumamoto, Japan
2019 “The 35th Higashikawa Award Winners’ Photo Exhibition”, Higashikawa Bunka Gallery, Hokkaido, Japan
2019 “The 58th Venice Biennale 2019:May You Live in Interesting Times”, Giardini and Arsenale, Venice, Italy
2019 “Syunsuke Matsumoto – vol.3 Child’s time-”, Okawa museum, Gunma, Japan
2018 “Unexpected Encounters”,in the city center of Maebashi, Gunma, Japan
2018 “Body Politics: What Defines the Body?”,KANA KAWANISHI PHOTOGRAPHY, Tokyo, Japan
2018 “How Many Miles to Babylon?”,MIYAKO YOSHINAGA, N.Y
2017 “Photographs of innocence and of experience Contemporary Japanese Photography vol. 14”, Tokyo Photographic Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan
2017 “Signal flare for our future”, Art Museum and Library, Ota, Gunma, Japan
2017 Pro(s)thesis & Posthuman Complisities/xhibit und Gemaldegalerie der Akademie der Bildende Kunste Wien,Wien
2016 DAEGU PHOTO BIENNALE2016 Me in the Photography/Daegu Culture & Arts Cen- ter,Tegu,Korea
2016 “Roppongi Crossing – My body, your voice”, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan
2015 “現代幽霊画”, TAV Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
2013 “L’Experience Japonaise”, Theatre National de Marseille La Criee, Marseilles
2013 “Aichi Triennale 2013”, Nayabashi, Aichi, Japan
2013 “KISS THE HEART#2”, Isetan Shinjuku department store window display, Tokyo, Japan
2012 “Human Library”, Meiji University, Tokyo, Japan
2012 “and freedom 2 | MEGANE + Mari Katayama”, Traumaris | Space, Tokyo, Japan
2012 “Shibukaru sai”, PARCO, Tokyo, Japan
2012 “Art Award Tokyo Marunouchi 2012”, Gyoko-dori Underground Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
2012 “Tokyo University of the Arts Graduation Work Exhibition”, BankART Studio NYK, Kanagawa, Japan
2011 “CunCun”, Gallery Conceal Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan
2010 “identity, body it. ―curated by Takashi Azumaya―”, NCA, Tokyo, Japan
2009 “First EXPO ART 1st JAPAN”, Oizumimachi Bunkamura, Gunma, Japan
2008 Wall paintings, Social Welfare Service Corporation Suido-sya, Gunma, Japan
2008 “Art MAGMA”, Asaya department store, Gunma, Japan
2006 “The 58th Nihon Independent Exhibition” Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan
2005 “Gunma Biennale for Young Artists ’05” The Museum of Modern Art, Gunma, Japan

2020 【The 45th Kimura Ihei Awards】
2019 【New Photographer Awards】at “Higashikawa Awards”
2015 【Koichi Watari Prize, Mitsuhiro Yoshitomo Prize, Rina Miyake Prize】at “3331 Art Fair 2015 -Various Collectors’ Prizes-“
2012 【Grand Prize】at “Art Award Tokyo Marunouchi 2012”
2005 【Encouragement Prize】at “The 8th Gunma Biennale for Young Artists ’05”

[Public Collections]
Tate Modern(London, Britain), RISD museum(RI, USA), Mori Art Museum (Tokyo, Japan), Tokyo Photographic Art Museum (Tokyo, Japan), amana collection (Tokyo, Japan), ARTS Maebashi (Gunma, Japan), Okawa Museum of art (Gunma, Japan), Gateau Festa Harada (Gunma, Japan), fondation antoine de galbert (Paris, France).

GIFT (United Vagabonds, 2019) ISBN: 978-4-908600-04-3
Un certain désordre #1 (Edité par la Fondation Antoine de Galbert – collection Un certain désordre, 2021) ISBN: 978-2-9571947-1-1

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