“My grandfather died when I was fourteen and became an abacus. In the way ice turns into water, he became this object he left behind.” So begins the performance of Japanese artist Aki Sasamoto’s Talking in Circles Talking, an immersive performance and installation at Soloway Gallery in South Williamsburg. Exploring the notions of value and vibrancy at play in the space between human relationships and physical objects, Sasamoto effectively fuses personal discourses with her surrounding environment.
During the run of Sasamoto’s piece at Soloway, the gallery has been transformed into the artist’s personal domain: scrawls and doodles adorn the walls, and blocks of ice hang from the ceiling, marking the passing of time as the runoff drips off into amplified mixing bowls. In another corner, half of a chair juts out from the wall, a surreal addition that seems superfluous until Sasamoto appears, perched on the chair as if she was lording over the gallery.
While her exhibition has been open for almost a month, the artist has appeared for a number of scheduled performances, prowling across the small gallery packed with viewers, and telling story after story of her personal relationships, musings on the nature of objects, and the personal histories we ascribe to objects, all while illustrating her models and theories on life on the walls of the gallery in marker. Tangling herself up with the various objects of the small space, covering an enormous lamp in women’s underwear, and emphatically jamming screwdrivers into the walls, the artist repeatedly works in and through her environment, creating a singularity of performance and presence. With each performance, Sasamoto marks her space even more, leaving behind a transformed room.
As the title belies, Talking in Circles Talking is an exercise in returning. Sasamoto’s performance embraces the complex interweaving of human and object, and the ability for either one to become the other through the connections established through the passage of time. The gallery itself becomes an artifact of this exchange, bearing the emotional and physical imprint of Sasamoto’s performances, and an evidence of the exchange between the artist and audience.
To Sasamoto, her work becomes a recreation of this connection, an attempt to bring her own experience into dialogue with the expectations and experiences of her audience, while allowing the interplay of object and subject to create its own meaning.
Talking in Circles Talking is on view until February 24th.