Mari Katayama, having both legs amputated, came to use prosthetic limbs at the age of nine. In her childhood, she was met with perplexed looks and insidious bullying by her surroundings.
In her growth phase, her prosthetic legs quickly lost their fit and had to be replaced many times. The disused prosthetic legs went accumulated in the closet.
Looking at those prosthetics, now mere shells, and checking her appearance fit with prosthetics in the mirror, there is no doubt that she has asked herself over and over, "Is this me?" It is a ceaseless question that resounds throughout all of her artwork.
Lacan said that the image of a fragmented body often appears in the dreams of the mentally ill. Yet, even the awareness of a coordinated (normal) body is nothing more than a secondary story constructed on a mirror's surface.
Katayama thrusts forth such a primitive sense of the body inherent to us all. Thus, it shakes us to the core.
We are all Mari Katayama.
Hisashi Muroi (Philosopher / Professor, Yokohama National University)
Translated by 3331 Arts Chiyoda