Yahata Aki: Don’t Call It Beshbarmak, 2022

The exhibition of YAHATA Aki, “Don’t Call It Beshbarmak, 2022″ will be held at Kyoto city KYOCERA museum of art.


Period:February 14 (Tue.) – May 28 (Sun.), 2023
Venue:The Triangle, Kyoto City KYOCERA Museum of Art(124 Okazaki Enshoji-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, 606-8344 Japan)
Closed on:Mondays (except public holidays)




Yahata Aki (b. 1985) is a contemporary artist whose fieldwork-based video installations have long focused on frontiers. This exhibition features Don’t Call It Beshbarmak, 2022, her new work about eating with hands, a strong interest of the artist in recent years as part of her preoccupation with frontiers.
Interpreting eating with hands as a kind of “human performance,” Yahata surveys and archives the vestiges, traces, and current forms of this manner of eating that is disappearing as civilization develops, and, in the act of eating with hands, uncovers the liberation and expansion of physicality and sensation, interpersonal connections, and commonality with others. And then through art, she considers and reflects on eating with hands, exploring a present that encompasses signs of the future and possibilities for humankind.
The exhibition focuses on beshbarmak, a traditional meat dish in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Sensing a deep connection to eating with hands in the name of the dish, which literally means “five fingers,” Yahata traveled throughout Central Asia in the autumn and winter of 2022. As she progressed with her research, however, she came into contact with the complex ideas of Kazakhstanis about the name as well as issues of identity and the underlying relationship between the country and Russia. It is thought that beshbarmak was named by Russians who colonized the region. Yahata also met an ethnographer who offered the interpretation that the naming of the dish implicitly contains a derogatory nuance toward Kazakhstanis as a nomadic people who eat with their hands.
Over the course of her research, Yahata pursued the prototype of eating with hands in the remnants of nomadic culture. But the nomads that she examined gradually seemed to resemble herself—a fieldworker called a “modern nomad” by locals—and the Russians and others whose wanderings across Central Asia to escape war paralleled her travels.
In Don’t Call It Beshbarmak, 2022, a temporal (historical) axis of complex perspectives connecting past, present, and future intersects with a spatial (geographical) axis linking Russia and Central Asia, reflecting the numerical reality of those perspectives. And then within that complex entanglement, it brings out a distinct reality of the human world.

The exhibition is an installation mainly comprising footage shot on-site, poetry by a Kazakhstani woman relating memories about beshbarmak, poetry by a Russian man who has fled his homeland due to war, rap music by a Kazakhstani artist that links the whole work together, and banners that resemble fashion advertising. Making such connections at times with music and fashion, Yahata’s work paves the way for a contemporary society in which we eat with our hands, prompting ideas about human life and the progress of the human race that we can grasp specifically through considering the act of eating with hands via the filter of art.



Born in Tokyo in 1985 and raised in Hokkaido, Yahata Aki completed a BFA in 2008 in the Department of Intermedia Art at Tokyo University of the Arts, and then an MFA in 2010 from the same institution’s Graduate School of Fine Arts. She is currently based in Kyoto. Her solo exhibitions include The Earthly Paradise Vol. 7 Aki Yahata (gallery αM, 2014) and On this day, a day she wanted to live (HENKYO.studio, 2021). Her recent group exhibitions include Landscape for Wavering (Kyoto Art Center, 2019) and 7.9 Billion Others―For Every “I” Living on This Planet (Borderless Art Museum NO-MA, 2021).