Aki Sasamoto’s ‘leap of faith’ draws connections between cultures, histories

Kochi, Mar 06: Situating a trampoline in a hole had been playing on Aki Sasamoto’s mind for over a year when the New York-based artist came to the city last June in search of inspiration for her proposed artwork for Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016.

“For the Biennale, I wanted to invent a hole, and to situate it in a space rather out of blue.  My intent was to draw out a graph of a hole as a floating concept. There are holes found in everyday life, inserted or referenced through sculptural means,” Sasamoto said.

Her initial idea had been inspired by the ‘underground vibe’ of her environment: her residence in a basement apartment and a basement studio workspace. But the literal jump-off point for Sasamoto’s performance-installation ‘random memo random’ came from her site visit to TKM Warehouse in Mattancherry, one of the Biennale’s 12 venues.

“I walked in and it was just beautiful. I felt that this space could accommodate some type of abstract graph, and it was a perfect spot perhaps because it has stored transient objects or its character is such to begin with,” said Sasamoto, whose practice involves making installations with “negative spaces” like furniture pieces and little doorways that she can fit herself inside of.

In this instance, that space was a seven-foot-deep hole – that “belonged neither to my home nor in Kochi” – with a trampoline at its bottom that allowed her to “fluctuate my head around the horizon to examine whether the perspective above ground and from underground differ”.

Over the Opening Week, Sasamoto conducted two half-hour performances that saw her jump into the hole and use the “elasticity” of the trampoline-hole experience to deliver improvised talks about the “chemical reactions between cultures, between histories and graphs”.

“The more I jumped on the trampoline in the hole, the more connections are made between the graph of elasticity and the experience in the land of Kerala. All I had to do is to methodically pull out these new points of significances through performing,” Sasamoto  

The memorandum, or contract, between these points is emphasised with each ‘leap of faith’.

What remains of those performances is a looped video, carefully arranged found objects and doodles Sasamoto drew on the wall of her “chain of thoughts about elasticity”. Instead of a performer on the trampoline, a cabinet has been suspended by link chains over the hole.

“The cabinet – drawn in and out of the hole – is a stand-in for a body when I am not there performing. This cabinet also references history and other bodies, especially when I was performing and contrasting a single body to the cabinet,” Sasamoto said.

Other objects, like elastic strings and rubber bands – “just because they are obviously elastic”, are placed around the space to further the discussion on and impression of elasticity.  As well, they double as “archaeological tools of lines and points, locating the hole in the space”.



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