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Kioto Aoki

Taiko Artist, Educator

Kioto Aoki is a Chicago-based artist, educator and musician, whose studio practice navigates various mechanisms and propositions of spatial and visual acuity. Grounded in the analogue image and image-making process and through tangential vernaculars of conceptual photography and experimental cinema, she forms a rhetoric of nuanced quietude responding to and formed by observations and experiences of the everyday. Often in her work, the body activates, holds, and navigates the propositions of sight and relativity, through notions of structural tangibility and material or site-specificity.

Aoki’s musical practice is as taiko artist, specializing in shamisen and tsuzumi as well. She is a 5th generation of the Toyoakimoto house, an okiya (geisha house) performing arts family from Tokyo with roots dating back to the Edo period. Studying under her father Tatsu Aoki (Toyoaki Sanjuro) who was born in Tokyo and now performing shamisen under her professional name Toyoaki Chitose (豊秋千東勢) and paving the way as taiko artist, Aoki continues this artistic family lineage in Chicago, through both traditional okiya and contemporary musical contexts.

Aoki’s taiko work maintains a balance of retaining the artistic and aesthetic integrity of traditional Japanese music with a musical flexibility that extends beyond the measures of cultural preservation. Her playing is informed by the Japanese aesthetics of ma while challenging the common misinterpretation and beliefs of percussion as rhythm, and uses often stoic gestures of sonic textures, abstracted soundscapes and embodied phrasing that incorporates choreography as part of melody.

Kioto’s work is held in the Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago Library and private collections. Musical projects include Yoko Ono’s SKYLANDING, Tatsu Aoki’s The MIYUMI Project, Experimental Sound Studio’s Sonic Pavilion Festival, and Soundtrack series at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. She has performed and exhibited at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Asian Art Museum (San Francisco), the Chicago Cultural Center, 6018|North (Chicago), Gallery Kobo Chika (Tokyo, Japan), The Lab (San Francisco), and the Barbican Centre (London), among others. She received her MFA at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Job Title

3rd Generation

Chicago, IL, USA

AIR Artist

Kioto Aoki

Photo by Ken Carl

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