Through a very varied oeuvre, in which installations overlap with models and drawings, Aï Kitahara is involved in a line of thinking about the idea of frontier. Declaring that “through its boundaries, a space protects at the same time as it imprisons”, the artist strives to depict this “area in between the inside and the outside”, a visible or invisible line, as symbolic and psychological as it is physical. Her works (door, wall, handle, threshold) are often presented to the onlooker like apparently familiar everyday items of furniture. However, by separating them from their tangible mooring, Aï Kitahara creates new spaces which are mental rather than physical: a “de-territorialization” based on which she questions and rethinks the opposition between inclusion and exclusion. Poignée/Handle (2009), for example, a door handle affixed slap bang in the middle of a wall, suggests through its permanent rotating movement, not the idea of openness, but, on the contrary, the impossibility of having access to what may be behind it. Confident (2008) is also the result of a dialectic encounter between two contradictory elements: a curved wall (sign of separation and isolation) and an armchair, the confident seat of the title, also known as a tête-à-tête or face-to-face in the 19th century, because it enabled two people to talk to each other without having to turn their heads. We find this tension in Seuil-fauteuil/Threshold-Armchair (2006), where, rather than separating, a door becomes opening-cum-seat and offers the experience of “sitting on the edge”. Kitahara’s most recent work conveys a questioning about the relationship between art and architecture, and more particularly about the presentation of art in architectural space. In Démolir – Reconstruire III (2009) and Sur le rampart. Banc de correlation (2008), the artist uses powerful elements of a place (buildings, structures, ramparts), in order to transpose them into what is akin to both furniture and an architectural model. Her works, which are conceived in situ, juggle with the very space of their presentation, by putting its architecture back together, and redefining it.
Aï Kitahara (Kanagawa, 1966) studied at the Arts University of Musashino (Tokyo) 1990, at the Grenoble School of Fine Arts, at the Institute of Advanced Studies in Visual Arts in Paris and at the Nantes School of Fine Arts (postgraduate, 1994-1995). She lives and works in Paris and Vallières-les-Grands. She has exhibited at the Chez Valentin Gallery (1997), the Shiseido Gallery (Tokyo, 2007), at the Bouvet Ladubay Contemporary Art Centre (2008) and at the MA2 Gallery (Tokyo, 2009).