Ayano Hattori is a PhD-awarded artist who has engaged with a wide range of practice from digital video and photography to painting, and from creative and critical writing to performance. Varied articulations, aesthetics, and materialisations specific to these respective media characterise her embodiments, in which the aspects of research, cultural criticism, and activism are intertwined within artmaking. Reflecting her positionality, these critical and creative embodiments encompass herself within the subject matter. The situatedness of the embodiments, the piece of art and knowledge, offers viewers possibilities for contemplation of the contemporary world from unique perspectives.

 

 

Ayano was born in Niigata, a peripheral city of Japan, in the mid 1980s. She grew up between the two nations of Singapore and Japan, residing and being educated in both countries. Her childhood was characterised by the dispersed locations of living and the mediated communication among the members of her family brought about by her father’s international job. Those experiences have contributed to shape her diasporic identity as well as the autobiographical aspect of her PhD research, You Saw Nothing: Sight, Digital Video, Post-3.11. She spent the formative period of her artistic career in various Asian cities, namely Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Okinawa, until the awarding of a prestigious grant by the Programme of Overseas Study for Upcoming Artists from the Japanese government, which allowed her to live and research in London.

 

 

Ayano Hattori, You Saw Nothing in Fukushima
You Saw Nothing in Fukushima (2012-), Digital Video

With sight being an inextricable element of visual art, Ayano’s artworks provide viewers with the realm of sight as a site of contemplation of technology, capitalism, and modernity. Her digital video works, such as You Saw Nothing in Fukushima, Family StoryMinuteness, and Bangladesh contemplate capitalism and modernity, growth and power, and centre and periphery through the aestheticisation of the forward momentum of the medium that establishes the aesthetics of speed, stillness, and slowness. The minimalistic and photographic look of her videos blurs the identity of image being unidentified between still and moving, which enables the forward momentum to emerge as an aesthetic space of such contemplation.

Ayano Hattori. You Saw Nothing in Fukushima
You Saw Nothing in Fukushima (2012-), Digital Video

 

 

Ayano Hattori, Hidden Animals
Hidden Animals (2020), Digital Photography
Ayano Hattori, Intimate Strangers
Intimate Strangers 7 (2012), Digital Video

The use by the artist of her own body in her works also engages with sight as an inextricable element of visual art through manipulations of the gaze and the subjecthood of the seeing–seen subjects. The frequent employment of her own body, including the vocal corporeality in I’m a boy, allows the postcoloniality of the Asian female body to emerge against the modernist concept of the universalised human body. The tactility of the gaze embodied in Hidden Tides, Hidden Animals, and Intimate Strangers speaks of the racist imprinting of sexualisation of Asian femininity into the contemporary world. The performative employment of her own body in these photographic works unfolds on the postcolonial politics of the gaze. We Paint the Sky Pink, on the contrary, re-establishes the artist herself as the tactile subject of writer and painter in the mixed media of writing and painting.

 

 

Intimate Strangers has been exhibited at Vladivostok Biennale of Visual Arts, Russia and in the Institute of Contemporary Art, Singapore (ICAS) as a video installation. Other notable cultural institutions at which Intimate Strangers has been screened include El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe, USA, Zero Art Space, Myanmar, and Cairo Video Festival, Egypt. The ICAS published an exhibition catalogue with an essay, “The Space Between”, by Charles Merewether in conjunction with her solo exhibition Ayano Hattori: Intimate Strangers. Intimate Strangers is also the title of her MA thesis. With the term intimate strangers describing the viewership, this practice-based research was conducted on the reconfiguration of the relation between the performance artist and the camera, and between the body and the gaze, leading into the post-performance material production of documentation in the form of photography and video. Intimate Strangers received a travel research grant, the Winston Oh Travel Research Award, from LASALLE College of the Arts, which allowed her to research in New York City. This travel research was materialised as Tour 1-3 with performative use of the artist’s own body narrating national traumas of Japan in imitation of a volunteer tour guide at the 9.11 Memorial Park. Other works from early in her career include acrylic paintings and the performance-art works With Father, featuring her own father, and Untitled (Leg with torch), both first performed in Japan.

 

 

Family Story (2019), Digital Video

Her practice-based PhD research, You Saw Nothing: Sight, Digital Video, Post-3.11, auto-ethnographically situates Ayano herself as an artist-researcher in the socio-political centre–periphery structure in post-3.11 Japan, and reconsiders the apotheosis of growth with a focus on digital video as data and information, an embodiment of time–space compression. Through inviting readers to observe the irreducible micro details of Japanese peripheries in the shaded history of growth, her research offers a macro reconsideration of modernity and exploitative relations as a universal issue. The auto-ethnography positions her contradictorily between research subjectivities, as both the researcher and the researched. From this oxymoronic positionality, she develops the politics of representation and knowledge into the aesthetics of intimacy and opacity. This poetic, yet critical, analytical, and activist embodiment weaves the realm of sight through multiple threads of creative practice, academic text, ethnography, film study, and sociology, and theatrically involves the viewers/readers within.

 

In 2018, she designed and founded Artist-in-House in Niigata, to which she relocated and where she has been resident since 2019. Artist-in-House manifests Ayano’s passions for art as a way of living and collaboration with artists and creative individuals from different disciplines. Artist-in-House promotes artist-centred, creative, and sustainable research methodologies and decentred production of art and knowledge. The current collaboration with ethnographer Robert Simpkins researches into the boundary between artwork and ethnographic document, the politics of the representing and the represented, and the mediated co-presence and knowing of the Other/other. 

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