Text / Wang Paopao
On her Instagram page, Itsuki Kaito looks like a juvenile delinquent. With the exception of her artworks, she tends to post pictures that would make some parents concerned. She presents a more professional image on twitter, however, where she looks reasonably fashionable and expresses measured interest in this world. She can talk too-in short sentences, firing out bits and pieces here and there. In an article in Forbes Japan, she voices impatience with the current state of Japan, and claims that “The Time for Artists to Wait Is Over”. On the page of Kansai Art Beat’s website, however, she appears to be a good student-decent, playful, likable.
I don’t know if the information above can really describe someone who has wanted to be an artist since she was in kindergarten, who dreamed of becoming “The Most Popular Person” on the bulletin boards of online forums. But when she finally gets access to exhibitions, galleries and museums as an artist, all she wants is a way to escape through her creative practice. She wants to run away from the monologues of human beings to a nonhuman world made of alien beings.
As a Japanese woman born in 1993, Itsuki Kaito knows all about things like anime, video games, Tadanori Yokoo and Yukio Mishima, etc., which more or less make up the familiar postmodern myth concerning Japanese culture. To Itsuki Kaito, however, these things are not only prejudicial, but also repressive. Being ambushed by cultural stereotypes from external perspectives with their respective expectations, demands and praises is a miserable experience. No matter how she chooses to express herself, She wants to free art from the monologues of human beings and allows it to enter a nonhuman world made of alien beings.
How does one escape labels such as “Japanese Culture” and “Heisei Women” at a time like this?
How does one build a real life for herself, with no process of purification otherwise, in a world of shame, filth and immorality?
How does one maintain a strong sense of oriental identity while expressing her resentment and indignation toward an overcooked idea of East Asian aesthetics, with all her depictions of tied-up male bodies, images of an alienated version of the otaku lifestyle, and the portrayal of those ambiguous, perverse and absurd moments where the line between human and beast starts to blur?
Perhaps that’s where the heart of Itsuki Kaito or her “idée fixe” lies.
About the exhibition
Dates: Mar 2, 2019 – Apr 7, 2019
Venue: Tong Gallery+Projects
Courtesy of the artist and Tong Gallery+Projects, for further information please visit www.tong-gallery.com.