New York–based installation artist Aki Sasamoto has been named the winner of this year’s Calder Prize. The honor, bestowed biannually on “a contemporary artist whose innovative work reflects the continued legacy of Calder’s genius,” is attended by a $50,000 award; a three-month residency at Atelier Calder, Alexander Calder’s former studio in Saché, France; and the placement of the winner’s work in the collection of a major institution.
“Aki Sasamoto uses everyday objects, movement, set design, and food in her performances to evoke the absurdity of the human experience,” said Calder Foundation president Alexander S. C. Rower. “She improvises environmental elements such as equations or sounds in ways that are impossible to anticipate. This intangibility keeps us on our toes and somehow coalesces into magical coherence. The resulting energetics resonate with my grandfather’s own experiential art.”
Born in 1980 in Yokohama, Japan, Sasamoto collaborates with visual artists, musicians, choreographers, dancers, and academics to produce works that respond to their surroundings. Notable among her works is 2016’s Delicate Cycle, which saw her climb inside a commercial laundry machine and mimic the hoarding behavior of a scarab, or dung beetle, moving about a large pile of laundry. For her 2021 installation Squirrel Ways, which she developed during an earlier residency at Atelier Calder, she created a series of movable wooden panels that together conjured a living room, within which she peformed: the work, conceived in the wake of the pandemic, was meant to investigate both the permeablity of barriers. “There’s . . . an obdurate materiality to Sasamoto’s sculpture that resists metaphorical elevation,” wrote Artforum’s Chloe Wyma.
Sasamoto is the ninth artist to win the Calder Prize, which was established in 2005. Past recipients include Rosa Barba, Jill Magid, Haroon Mirza, and Darren Bader.