Opening: Thursday, September 6th, 7-9 pm
Floating Worlds is a 2-person show of works by female emerging Asian artists. Kanako Sasaki is a young Japanese photographer and Fay Ku is a young Chinese painter and draughtsman. This show demonstrates how two artists working in different mediums can evoke the same type of playful energy associated with dream-like and childhood worlds. Ironically, both artists have a common bond of feeling a sense of displacement from their families’ culture and history, whether it be Japan or China, and therefore they use their art as a way of establishing connections to their pasts.
Kanako Sasaki’s photographs are largely self-portraits. Not only does she pose in her pictures, but the works are also inspired directly from her own childhood memories and imagination. Sasaki’s photos capture the concept of a “floating world”, or romanticized world where everything is peaceful and beautiful and nature is flourishing. She is influenced by various Japanese novels and Ukiyo-e paintings. (Ukiyo-e is a genre style of painting and printmaking developed in Japan from the 17th to the 19th centuries and marked by the depiction of the leisure activities of ordinary people). Putting her own idiosyncratic twist on the popular theme of teenage girls growing up, Sasaki always dresses up in high fashion clothing, thus putting her own spin on the conventions of adolescence and recreation. Sasaki likes to let the audience see her work as if they are sharing the secret moments with the girl in the image. She wants them to conjure up their own memories of playing on the beach, as seen in Ambassador or as climbing and playing in the yard on trees as depicted in Swing Club.
Many of Sasaki’s works in this show are part of a larger series entitled, Wanderlust. In this body of work, Sasaki is carefree and is able to let go and completely enter her childhood fantasy world. Sasaki uses a staging technique where she sets herself up in a powerful stance which gives her character a distinct personality and the overall photograph an apparent mood. As seen in the diptych, Afternoon 7 & 8, Sasaki photographs herself in a classroom corridor feeling somber and staring at the closed door. Using strong poses, Sasaki is able to convey an emotion of despair and loneliness to the viewer, thus leading them to question what has happened to her.
Fay Ku draws on her personal and cultural history, mostly based on stories she has heard as a child or random events she witnessed growing up, as her main source of inspiration. Her work also directly references traditional Asian art. Her large scale imaginative works combine a penchant for detail and patterning with a narrative storytelling. Ku's stories take place in isolation, her figures sparsely placed against the white of the paper. Her works depict a “floating world” which resembles our own, in regards to our personal hidden desires and fantasies we play out in our minds. Ku’s focused subject matter, usually depicting children at work or play, explores the poetic and deeply emotional issues of childhood and identity. Relationships and issues of socialization are also central themes in her work. This is illustrated in, Take Down Giant, where the children are working as a team with their axes and rope to take down the tree, which could be a metaphor for their enemy or parent.
Although adults are not usually present in Ku’s work, their influences are implied. As seen in, Battle at the Sea, the children are expressing what we usually associate with violent adult behavior. This work reminds us that aggression and callousness are around us and present from birth. Ku uses these disturbing images, of children acting out war and fighting violently, to destroy the false ideal of an innocent, idyllic childhood. She is concerned with unveiling the psychological reality underlying things. In another work, Deployment, the children Ku depicts are vulnerable yet resilient. The little kids, who look no older than three, are jumping in the water with their guns up ready to attack. Although some of them look scared at first, the inevitable is that they are going in as a group, even if they have to have on their water wings!
Kanako Sasaki graduated from Ithaca College, NY with a BA Degree, 2001. She received a MFA in Photography from School of Visual Arts, NY, 2004. Sasaki currently lives and works in London where she is working on a Post Graduate Degree at the Royal College of Art, London, UK. Sasaki recently completed an Artist in Residency at Woodstock A-I-R, a residency for Artists of Color Working in the Photographic Arts. Fay Ku graduated from Bennington College, VT with a Dual BA in Literature and Visual Arts, 1995. She received a MS Degree in Art History & MFA Studio Art from Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY, 2003.