After the MEP studio in 2021, here are the disturbing textile and photographic works of Japanese artist Mari Katayama presented in the Project Room of the Suzanne Tarasiève gallery.
“Beautiful as the chance meeting of a sewing machine and an umbrella on a dissection table.” Adopted by the Surrealists, this famous line from Count de Lautréamont’s Chants de Maldoror (published in 1869) echoes strangely in Mari Katayama’s sophisticated stagings.
There is indeed surrealism – a sometimes baroque surrealism – in the self-portraits by the Japanese artist (born in 1987). Photographic self-portraits where the marvellous rubs shoulders with the painful, and where wounded intimacy touches on the universal. Amputated from both legs at the age of nine as a result of a rare congenital disease that left her with a malformed left hand, Mari Katayama has made art out of her abnormality. Transgressing the canons of beauty, she shows off her damaged body, with or without prostheses, sublimated by finery and other ornaments and accessories that she sews herself.
Appearing as an octopus-woman in her “Bystander” series, where we see her sitting on the beach wearing tentacled prostheses, in “Shell” (2016) she is enthroned in a deluge of glittering trimmings alongside her hand-stitched double: a most disturbing mise-en-scène.
Combining audacity and virtuosity, she goes so far as to show her legs in close-up in an almost abstract series from 2019 entitled “In the Water”, where traditional criteria of beauty and ugliness are shattered to make way for poetry bordering on the sublime.
Far from this abstraction, the “Possession” series, presented for the first time in France at the Suzanne Tarasiève gallery, plays on preciousness and accumulation. Accumulation of the artist’s personal objects set against a black background to form the backdrop for twenty-two photographs that combine self-portraiture and still life. A hybrid of genres that allows Mari Katayama to raise the question of ‘possession’, of objects, but also of her own body and identity.
« Mari Katayama »
Galerie Suzanne Tarasiève
7, rue Pastourelle, Paris 3e
On view until 25 November