Aki Sasamoto: An Artist Walks into a Bar | Art21 “New York Close Up”

What happens when an artist gives up control?

Mirroring its subject’s own playful and absurdist sensibility, this portrait of sculptor and performance artist Aki Sasamoto is a fluid hybrid of fiction and documentary—at once a magical realist world of spinning objects and a psychological exploration of fundamental questions about artistic creativity.

Drinking and bar culture has long served as a source of inspiration for the artist. With a real-world Brooklyn bar as the main stage for her deadpan performance style, a bartender acts as a sympathetic ear for Sasamoto’s ruminations on past projects and recent motherhood. Embellished by CGI-style effects, the artist toggles between impromptu conversations and scripted performances, blurring the line between observable fact and subjective vision.

From firing whiskey glasses at Urban Glass in Brooklyn to installing her exhibition, “Past in a future tense,” at Bortolami Gallery in Manhattan, Sasamoto grapples with the tension between control and chaos—between her mastery over materials and their own will. “Whatever I thought I had control over, whatever I thought I was,” explains Sasamoto, “will change in front of me and that to me is exciting, in life and in sculpture.”

Aki Sasamoto (b. 1980, Kanagawa, Japan) lives and works in New York. Learn more about the artist at: art21.org/artist/aki-sasamoto/

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