Kioto Aoki / Where Shadows Gather (Chicago)

Where Shadows Gather (four images of room corners, 2021; self-portrait, 2016 printed 2021) by artist Kioto Aoki


Where Shadows Gather considers the writing of Tanizaki Junichiro who observes the importance of darkness and shadows within Japanese culture and aesthetics through the space of the home.* 

Photographs capture the convening of shadows within corners of the 6018|North and artist’s house, drawing attention to the most commonly overlooked areas of a room. A portrait of the artist emerging from the shadows completes the series as a dual reference to Tanizak’s remarks on the complexion of the Japanese woman. In contrast to the white, Western foreigner, the Japanese skin tone is a whiteness tinged with gray; and unlike the extreme Western aversion to shadowed complexions, the Japanese recognize the grace of this cloudiness, the beauty of darkness. 

*In Praise of Shadows (1933)


gelatin silver print, 2021
Where Shadows Gather, 2021

BIO: Kioto Aoki is an artist and educator using the material specificity of the analogue image and image-making process to explore modes of perception as a politics of vision. Her photographic work oscillates between the still and the moving image, attentive to the apparatus of the human eye and the camera; while installation and artist book works engage mechanisms of structural tangibility and site-specificity. Forming a rhetoric of nuanced quietude, her practice considers the intimacies of vision through the experience of sight from inception through presentation.

As a musician, Kioto descends from the Toyoakimoto performing arts family in Tokyo with roots dating back to the Edo period. Studying under her Tokyo-born father, Kioto is carrying on the artistic family lineage in Chicago as sole professional taiko artist in the city. She has been performing on stage since the age of 7 and also plays shamisen and tsuzumi. Kioto plays in both traditional and contemporary musical contexts and is active within the experimental and creative music communities in Chicago and the Bay Area. She also leads the National Gintenkai Project—the performance unit within Tsukasa Taiko, the Japanese drumming program at Asian Improv aRts Midwest. 

Musical projects include Yoko Ono’s SKYLANDING, Tatsu Aoki’s The MIYUMI Project, The Reduction Ensemble, and the Taiko Legacy / Reduction series at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Kioto is also a multi-year Ethnic and Folk Arts Master Apprentice Program Awardee from the Illinois Arts Council. Curatorial projects include the ongoing Chicago Obihiro Exchange Project and 思考回路•Shikoukairo: Patterns of Thought which reframes the conversation around Asian & Asian-American cultural diegesis in the arts. She received her BFA & MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

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