Kaoru Katayama, Radio Gymnastics, Performance at MC Kunst opening, May 2008.

Negotiating and Documenting the Mine Fields of Cultural Identity

Kaoru Katayama, Suite No. 3 in D major, Video, HD, NTSC, 16:9,colour, stereo, 4'20'', edition of 5 + 2 PA, 2009.

Kaoru Katayama, My pillow (Wanko-chan), Serie de 6 fotografías en color, Lambda print, 32 X 50 cm. cada una.

Kaoru Katayama, Ba-ji-toh-fuh, cuando el viento del este sopla al oído del caballo, Videoproyección, España 2006, DVCAM, PAL, 5:4, Color, Estéreo, 1’56’’.


MC Kunst
6086 Comey Avenue
Los Angeles
Kaoru Katayama
My Best Effort

May 17-July 5, 2008

My Best Effort is the first U.S. solo exhibition of Japanese artist Kaoru Katayama who lives in Spain. Katayama mines the field of cultural identity, exploring contrasts between Japanese and Spanish cultural patterns. In My Best Effort, three video installations play on explicit cultural and temporal difference, and convey a painstaking communication process. As a series of choreographed contradictions, they reflect the artist’s experience and observations though consistently quotidian realities.

Technocharro (2004) for example explores the cultural interchange between new technology and folklore. In this video projection, a score of dancers, clad in their charro folkloric garb, attempt to syncopate their traditional Jota dance steps to the techno beats played by a DJ behind them. The result is a surreal experience, warped and anything but effortless, even if at times it comes together in its own idiosyncratic rhythm. Hard Labour (2005), another video projection, offers a forceful shift in the Japanese and Spanish everyday: five Spanish construction workers mimic traditional Japanese calisthenics, an almost ritualistic exercise in Japanese culture involving daily gymnastic performances and traditionally meant to enhance the worker’s health and citizen’s patriotism. The video reveals Katayama's predilection for performance: it urges the audience to mimic and interact, creating an alternate real-time choreography. In her effort to decontextualize, her work opens new venues for localisms, a reflection on fusion and the charged nature of harmony.

"Sobremesa," a term which literally means "after table", alludes to the lazy though potentially agitated period of time following a meal — where the diners take the opportunity to wind up, wind down, or simply to chat and perhaps even doze off. In her video, Sobremesa (2007), Katayama introduces yet another Spanish cultural element: the culturally subversive gypsy couple, in a conservative setting, subtly pounding a rhythm on the cracked plywood of an ordinary table. The minimalist score created by the couple’s knocking on the table is subtly interlaced into a fusion of dialogues characteristic of Katayama's strategies.

Kaoru Katayama was born in 1966 in Himeji, Japan. She has lived and worked in Spain for over 15 years. Her work will be featured in the exhibition A Modest Proposal at Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland, U.K. Later this year. Sobremesa, a solo exhibition, is scheduled for Sala Pemán, Cádiz, Spain, also in 2008. Past solo exhibitions include Kaoru Katayama, Galeria Casa Triângulo, São Paulo, Brasil (2007); So far, so close …, Galería T20, Murcia, Spain (2006); Technocharro, DA2 – Domus Artium, Salamanca, España (2004). Her work was also included in Existencias, MUSAC, Leon, Spain; Idilio, DA2 - Domus Artium, Salamanca, Spain; Heterotopías, Oktogon, Hochschule für Bildende Künste Dresden, Dresden, Germany; FISAHARA 07, IV Festival Internacional del Cine de Sahara, DAJLA Camp (2007); Everybody Dance Now, EFA Studio Center, New York; Manhattan, The Project, New York; Surrounding Matta-Clark, Galería Carlos Carvahlo de Arte Contemporáneo, Lisbon, Portugal (2006); Fusion, MUSAC, Leon, Spain; Video Unplugged, Gallerie S.E., Bergen, Norway (2005); Cultivos, Casa Encendida, Madrid, Spain (2002). In 2006, Katayama received the Young Artists Award at ARCO, Madrid.

Kaoru Katayama, Te Quiero Mucho, 2009, DVCPRO HD, NTSC, 16:9, Color, Stereo, 4'02''.

Kaoru Katayama, Trabajos Forzados (Hard Labour), 2005, Video projection, sound, TRT, 3'20", Edition of 5 + 2 AP.