Visiting Artist Lecture – Aki Sasamoto. Dasha Silva

Dasha Silva

ARTH 3539

Visiting Artist Lecture Denver – Aki Sasamoto

From 2/21/12

Aki Sasamoto is a very interesting woman with the ability to give an equally interesting artist lecture. Born in Japan, but then later moving to America to attend Columbia University as a math major, Sasamoto delivers a lecture that is both intimate, yet exciting. Sasamoto attended boarding school in England and currently resides in New York, where her work is made. Although she started out as a math major in college, she found that it didn’t hold her attention, and so she switched to dance. She is trained in dance and theater as well as education, but now works as a performance artist, videographer, and sculptor, and although this was a lecture, it ended up becoming more like a performance.

Sasamoto begins her lecture by typing her introduction, instead of saying it. This is something that I’ve never seen before and got me interested in what she was going to do from the beginning. As she typed out the initial information, it came up on the overhead screen. She then pulled up an A to Z list of topics for the audience to pick from, which would end up being what she talked about. This got the audience engaged in her, and it was also a really smart tactic for her to use so that the viewers would not only be interested in what she had to say, but it also made for a more intimate setting to hear her speak in.

I really enjoyed this type of audience interaction and her high level of energy made for a great lecture and performance, but at times I felt that she was too crazy and out there. Although her work came to make more sense in the end, she did things like move around a lot by climbing into cabinets and speaking out to the audience from inside, drew on walls, and even walked in circles. This may have been a way to show how passionate she is about her work and what she does, and in once sense it kept me intrigued, but at the same time, it made me irritated.

The piece that she showed that I enjoyed the most was titled “Judge Mental and The Purpose of Life,” in which she drew out a diagram explaining the relationships between different types of people in our society. She used the character Tinkerbell as a metaphor for one of the categories, naming it “the tinks.” Then there were also the “norms,” the “odds,” and “Professor K.” She explained how the norms are 99.9% of society and they bully the odds. The odds, or the outcasts, and the tinks, or the overachievers, don’t get along. “Professor K” is described to be the medium between the tinks and the odds. She also talked about getting on the “A train” in Manhattan and how if you don’t get off at the stops where the happiness is, you’ll be doomed for the rest of your life. Although there wasn’t much to this piece besides her vocals, I could tell that she really put a lot of thought into it, which made me enjoy it more.

Another piece that she talked about was titled “Skewed Lines,” which was a piece about mosquitoes and her hate for them. She showed photos of her performance, and explained how she was drawn to this large insect killer and that she wanted to get closer to the light. She also compared mosquitoes to the “scummy” people of the earth, which was funny. This part of the lecture was also a bit difficult to follow, but it was relatable to people, so that was good.

In the end, although it wasn’t one of my favorites, I enjoyed Aki Sasamoto’s lecture. I thought she did a really great job of engaging the audience, and even though she was a bit scatter-brained at times, she still kept it interesting. Her work wasn’t necessarily my style, but the lecture was still definitely more enjoyable than a regular, boring one. She definitely knows how to talk to her viewers and how to make them be interested in her work, and that is something that is really admirable in the art world.

2 Responses

  1. I appreciated your thorough characterization of the artistic works of Sasamoto and equally appreciated your honesty in saying she is not one of your favorites. Without this honesty ones own art work cannot be credible or creative.

  2. I also went to this lecture, and I completely agree with you. I really enjoyed her work, but I am still not sure if I enjoyed how she did her lecture. It felt way too much like a performance, and although she did show some of her work I did not feel like I learned very much about her. I do have to say though, it was an interesting take on the lecture series and it was actually kind of nice to have the chance to experience a few of her performances. Sorry I know I just contradicted myself a little bit.. Over all, I thought your paper was very well done, but I think it would have helped if you had gone into a little bit more detail about some of her pieces, such as “Skewed Lines”.

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