Her first solo exhibit in a U.S. museum, Aki Sasamoto’s Delicate Cycle at the Sculpture Garden is comprised of new work created for the space. Sculptures and videos are placed sparingly throughout the lower level galleries.
Once downstairs the faint bustling of the world outside is replaced only by sound bleed from a single video. The contrast of cleanliness and filth is immediately apparent – two distorted shower stalls held up by pulleys feel out of place next to the flaking paint on the brick and cement walls of the gallery. Down a hallway and squeezed along a wall two washing machines and dryers sit idle. Of everything in the gallery these objects feel at home – as if a tenant will appear with a laundry basket of dirty clothes. Their industrial exteriors match the rugged materials which make up the floors and walls, but inside they’re just as pristine as the showers. Above them is a video feed of a massive ball of sheets, located in the adjacent tunnel. The rolled-up linens call to mind the habits of dung beetles (who roll dung into balls as a food source and breeding chamber) that inspired Sasamoto. Everything feels intentional, even the boulder of laundry seems specifically placed – as though some unseen inhabitant has just gone out for detergent.
For how decrepit the space feels, everything appears clean. The showers are pristine and free of grime, the washers and dryers, although worn from use, look cared for. Along a back wall are stacks of shoeboxes lit from within. Peering through holes crumpled pages can be seen. Aside from these pages there seems to be no clutter, no excess.
Ultimately the exhibit feels too sparse. The gallery, which is mostly made up of hallways, is mostly empty. Transitioning between the different pieces can be confusing as it’s difficult to tell where spaces end and hallways begin. A slightly smaller venue may have served these pieces better as they felt physically too removed from each other.
While Aki Sasamoto is successful in contrasting her immaculate sculptures against their crumbling surroundings, the venue ultimately overpowers the exhibit through its sheer size and disorder, which even pristine sculptures cannot outshine.