Visiting Artist Paper 1: Aki Sasamoto

Niki Hale

ARTH 3539

Visiting Artist Lecture: Aki Sasamoto

            Aki Sasamoto is a young installation and performance artist. She was born in Japan, went to boarding school in England, and currently lives and works in New York City. Her visiting artist lecture at the University of Colorado began very unexpectedly; she typed, rather than spoke, her introduction. I immediately wondered if the entire lecture would follow suit, but she turned out to have a very lively attitude and a well-projected voice. Aki showed a list, A through Z, of potential subjects to cover for her lecture, and I was very pleased that we were given the opportunity to hear her speak about the topics that most interested us. The presentation was more of a dynamic interaction between her and the audience rather than a pre-determined lecture.

This is reflective of her artworks that we learned about, which combined both installation and performance art. The piece addressed at most length was called remembering/modifying/developing, done in 2007 and 2008. Three cameras were placed within the installation, which captured Aki’s performance on three separate days, which was then presented to us in a three by three grid. In the lecture, she posed the question, “am I a liar?” I was intrigued; what could you possibly mean by that? She went on to explain that she answers questions differently in every lecture, and completes her orchestrated performances differently each time. This was perfectly demonstrated by remembering/modifying/developing. The cameras were not stable, in the sense that they would move if bumped by Aki. So, the camera views varied slightly each of the three different days, and the performances were not executed identically. I don’t know if Aki truly considers herself a liar—I surely do not, but it’s a very new and interesting way of thinking about our processes as artists and their implications.

During her performance of remembering/modifying/developing, Aki utilized a chalkboard to illustrate and explain a theory about types of people, which she recreated in her lecture for us. There are, she says, four categories of people. 99.9% fall into the “norm,” which is self-explanatory. Then there are “tinks,” or overachievers, and “odds,” or bullied/suppressed persons. The happy-medium that rests between these two is “Professor K.” The diagram Aki drew laid these categories of people out relative to a metaphorical set of train tracks, which she compares to the A-train in New York City, and there is a “happiness belt” along the edges of the norm representing train stations on that line. Aki spoke excitedly about her theory; she spoke quickly and moved around a lot, pacing and speaking with hand and body gestures. It was so apparent to me how passionate she is about her ideas and her artwork, and how eager she is to share that with others.

The last artwork she lectured about is called Skewed Lines, done in 2010. I admit to getting a bit lost and confused along her line of thought about petty criminals versus noble criminals. I wrote in my notes that Aki tended to rant; it sounded as if we were glimpsing in on her stream of consciousness. However, I found her address of mosquitoes very comedic, noting that humor plays a primary role in Aki’s creative process and finished artworks. Everyone hates mosquitoes, and she compares them to the “scummy” people of the world: people who say “A” and do “B,” etc.

I was very pleased with my experience listening to Aki Sasamoto lecture and interacting and laughing with her throughout the hour. Installation and performance art are mediums and styles that I am not as familiar with as to say, painting or photography, so it was very interesting to see her humorous, ranting, high-energy, interactive interpretation and presentation of art.

One Response

  1. I love the descriptions of the instillations and the lecture as a whole. I can tell that you enjoyed this lecture and Sasamoto as a person, which makes the paper interesting to read. Great job!

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