MARI KATAYAMA “GIFT”

THINGSText: Hikaru Nakasuji

My sight was seized by the contrast of the flamboyant red nails and the skin tone floating on the solid black background. Veins and muscles are vividly representing a “life”. This book is, of course, a collection of works reflecting on the notion of one’s self and society through one’s body.

It is a pleasure to hear about the publication of Mari Katayama’s first book “GIFT,” published by Tokyo based United Vagabonds. Simon Baker, director of the Maison Européenne de la Photographie (MEP), wrote the foreword and Simon Dara has worked on the book design.


Mari Katayama “GIFT” Cover. ”hole on black” (2018) © Mari Katayama

Katayama is likely to be introduced as an artist with artificial legs. She was amputated at the age of nine. However, there seems to be a specific reason why she didn’t choose to feature this noticeable characteristic on the cover. In fact, this photo shows up in the last quarter of the book, revealing her nakedness cultivated for more than a decade of her career.


“on the way home #011” (2016) © Mari Katayama

Mari Katayama uses a variety of media to express a consistent theme and her emotions. This variety of media and this unique theme somehow defines the existence of a single human being. All of her works are using her own body as a living material.


“eyes” (2013) © Mari Katayama

A tremendous number of eyes blanketing the entire covering page. Suddenly occurred to me that this must be the game-changing point of her life. From this particularly impressive work onward follows a series of self portraits where she appears covered by laces with eyeballs attached. We’re lucky to have an artist like Katayama. She visualizes and shares her ambivalent feelings to a generation that is often afraid of being different.

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