In High Heels

Bizarre News from an intimate World

Mari Katayama’s story reads like a twenty-first-century fairy tale: She became famous on the social network MySpace virtually overnight when she uploaded a photo of herself lying amid her self-sewn stuffed animals. What drew people’s attention wasn’t just her handcraft but her amputated legs and prostheses. Tibial hemimelia is the name of this rare disease which the Japanese artist was diagnosed with as a child and led to a shortening of her shinbones and the deformation of her hand. As a young girl she made the decision to have her legs amputated in order to be able to walk in prostheses one day – mind you, in high heels.

“I am not sure if something like ‘intimacy’ exists in this world.”

What does intimacy mean to you?

Since I am not very good at getting along with people, it is difficult for me to build an intimate relationship with someone. So I do not have a clear image of what the word “intimate” should mean. Naturally, intimacy cannot be achieved through one-way communication, but personally I doubt that mutual communication is really possible. In that sense, I am not sure if something like “intimacy” really exists in this world.

Is there one question you would like to find an answer to?

In my projects I always ask myself: “Is this really necessary or not?” Whatever material I might be dealing with, I try to arrive at a critical and strict judgment in order to see if it is really suited as a work.

What is the nicest compliment someone made to you?

I am afraid I cannot think of one.

What are you afraid of the most in life?

I am more afraid of people than I am of ghosts, although I have never seen any. What I find strange about people is that they tend to create too many things we cannot control, like cars and nuclear power plants, for instance. People use their talents to create things and to destroy things.

What is your favorite body part and why?

I would say my voice because it is the only part that my mother and I have in common. Otherwise, there isn’t another part of my body that I really like.

If there was something you could change in the world, what would it be?

I would abolish the death sentence for good.

What is the first thing you do in the morning?

I open the curtains, change my daughter’s diapers, then I make breakfast and prepare a lunch box for my husband. Before my daughter was born I didn’t have a fixed morning routine.

Mari Katayama (Japanese: 片山 真理,  born 1987) is a Japanese multimedia artist known for her sculpture and photography work. Her work focuses on themes such as body image, identity, and her experience as an amputee.