Satoru Aoyama (b. 1973) holds a BA in Textiles from Goldsmiths University and an MFA from the Fiber and Material Studies department of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Aoyama works with an old Singer sewing machine to create meticulously embroidered works, which range in subject matter from world maps to historical depictions of labour and craft. With painstaking and skilled precision, Aoyama’s intricate process reflects on the notion of the individual craftsman in an age of outsourcing and mechanised labour. Frequently working with found imagery, Aoyama further questions the cultural value of appropriation.
His recent series, ‘Map of the World (Dedicated to unknown embroiderers)’ (2012-) references the Afghan craftswomen who assisted in the making of Alighiero Boetti’s ‘Mappa’ series (1971-1989). Aoyama has embroidered four world maps, along with a map of Europe. Reflecting the passage of time since Boetti’s works, new countries such as Ukraine and Serbia are now visible on the contemporary world map. Aoyama’s maps are embroidered using a fluorescent thread. In daylight they reveal little detail, but when shown in a darkened space each country and border is revealed. With this potential double reading, the artist suggests the often immaterial and intangible quality of borders and the geopolitics that underpin them.
In Death Song (2012), produced in collaboration with a contemporary musician, Aoyama took a 20th-century protest song of which only a fragment remained, and re-imagined the extract as a full-length piece. With this Aoyama attempted to revive the song for today’s world.
For his Glitter Pieces series (2008), Aoyama reproduced both the front and back of a printed matter as one image, appropriating the material quality of printed media into one form. In these pieces, while purposely taking imagery now devoid of meaning and rendering it in metallic thread, the artist sought humanity in a monotonous task.
Across his wide range of examples, Aoyama’s practice seeks to shed light on the people, records and stories that remain unknown in historical accounts.
Born in Tokyo, lives and works in Tokyo, 1973
Ancient Pixels, Chicago Cultural Center, Michigan Avenue Gallery, Chicago
Crowing in the Studio, Mizuma Art Gallery, Tokyo
Good Aliens, One in the Other, London
YU-KEI, Mizuma Art Gallery, Tokyo
In Stiched, Zolla/Lieberman Gallery, Chicago
Rokko Meats Art 2015, Rokkosan, Kobe
Embroidery × Sound x Art, Aoyama Satoru, Daikanyama Tsutaya Books, Tokyo
Alternative Choice, Yokohama Civic Art Gallery Azamino, Kanagawa
Red Bull Music Company, Red Bull Japan, Tokyo
Anti-War: Resistance Against the Anticipated War snow contemporary, Tokyo
Find Asia, Yokohama Creative Center, Kanagawa
Mikkeru Visitor Center Yokohama, Zou-no-hana Terrace, Kanagawa
Wonderful My Art, Kawaguchiko museum of Art, Yamanashi
Flowers, Towada Art Center, Aomori
Photo Reference: Photographic Image in Contemporary Japanese Art Practices, Belgrade Cultural Center – The Art Gallery, Belgrade, Serbia
Storyteller -Units of Recognition, Aomoro Contemporary Art Center, Aomori
Art for Tomorrow, Tokyo Wonder Site Shibuya, Tokyo
ZIPANGU, Takashimaya (traveled to: Tokyo; Osaka; Kyoto)
Dojima River Biennale, Dojima River Forum, Osaka
CAFE in Mito: Relationships in Color, Art Tower Mito, Ibaraki
COWBOY & PHOTON, CAPSULE, Tokyo
Parallel Running Theory, Tokyo Wonder Site Shibuya, Tokyo
Cross Counter: Artist Cooperative Project, XYZ collective, Tokyo
TARO LOVE, SEIBU Shibuya, Tokyo
THE ECHO ZAIM, Yokohama
Akasaka Art Flower, Akasaka Sacas, Tokyo
All look same. Art ChinaKorea JapanArt, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin, Italy, curated by Francesco Bonami
The Souvenir Mine, Mizuma Art Gallery, Tokyo, curated by Satoru Aoyama
Swallow harder, Frey Art Museum, Seattle, W.A.
Scape Codes: Neo-Topography, PKM Gallery, Seoul, Korea
Boys Who Sew, Crafts Council, London, curated by Janis Jefferies
Mori Art Museum, Tokyo