The Richmond Center is pleased to present a digital preview of Mimi Kato's upcoming solo exhibition in the Albertine Monroe-Brown Gallery, Wild Corporation. Originally planned to open in September of 2020, the physical iteration of Wild Corporation is postponed until September 2021 due to the ongoing pandemic. Instead of showing formal documentary shots that reveal complete reproductions of Kato's work, this special online exhibition preview focuses on partial snapshots or details of Kato's surreal sculptures and her evocative large scale digital prints. Less an effort to create an online exhibition and more so a deep dive into the defining aspects of Kato's work, this online preview explores the performative, photographic, and constructive processes that underline Mimi Kato's complex and vivid, imaginary worlds.
Click on the individual detail images below to hear Mimi Kato address questions from Dr. Indra K. Lācis, the Richmond Center's Director of Exhibitions, about the themes and concepts that underlie her process and work.
Coming of age in in Japan during the 1980s and ‘90s, Kato was taught to accept society’s remaining gender inequalities as simply inevitable. While many women were urged to assume Japan’s non-career tracks (Ippanshoku), women who pursued leadership and managerial positions (Sōgōshoku) often ignited powerful feelings of resentment and conflict amongst women in the workforce. Incorporating her personal experiences with corporate Japanese culture as well as her life in the United States, Kato’s work contests traditional boundaries and patriarchy, while also examining rivalries between women.
Turning the expected feminist script on its head, Mimi Kato's larger than life visual sagas in Wild Corporation feature two tribes of female employees who, with little hope of career advancement, turn against one another to battle it out. Donning laughably impractical skirts and vests, these women hunt, take hostages, and lash out against one another, fashioning their arms from staplers, rubber bands, zip ties, rulers, thumbtacks, binder clips and the like.
Taking inspiration from Japanese landscape painting and theater, especially contemporary Butoh and traditional mask theater as well as Kyōgen comedy tradition, Kato's multi-step approach includes photography (most often with a 35mm camera and handheld remote), as well as performance, costume construction, prop design, and drawing. While the resulting prints appear to embody the sleek, seamless look of a filmstrip and a dynamic world in motion, Kato's images are in fact layered stories, composite images made up of the artist's experiences in Japan and in the United States, ostensibly set in a world where time is of less consequence than the action and reaction of the present moment.
About the artist
Mimi Kato (b. 1974) grew up in Nara, the 8th century capital of Japan before it moved to Kyoto in 794. During her late teens, Kato began to live primarily in the United States and this split cultural experience is deeply relevant to the creation and meaning of her work.
Solo and two-person exhibitions of Mimi’s work have been staged at the Columbia Museum of Art, SC; Nicole Longnecker Gallery, Houston, TX; SPACES, Cleveland, OH; Roswell Museum of Art, New Mexico; Ballina Arts Center, Ballina, Ireland; McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, TX Dallas Center for Contemporary Art and Conduit Gallery, TX; Ripon College, WI; Grand Rapids Art Museum, MI; and Good Citizen Gallery in St. Louis, Missouri.
Her work has been included in a variety of group shows at such venues as the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC; Cleveland Institute of Art; International Photo Festival in the Canary Islands; Wichita Fall Museum of Art, Texas; New Orleans Museum of Art, Louisiana; and at numerous other venues in San Antonio, Galveston, Houston, and Austin, Texas. Mimi Kato earned her MFA from the University of Texas at San Antonio and her BA in photography at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri.
Learn more about the artist here: https://www.mimikato.com/