Jon Sasaki: Killing One Bird with Half a Stone

September 26 - December 20, 2020

Jon Sasaki’s multidisciplinary practice delves into the potentially generative outcomes of failure and futility. Sasaki’s solo exhibition at Esker Foundation will centre around a selection of his videos from the past decade that depict the artist’s persistent, sometimes reckless refusal to accept the obsolescence or inadequacy of everyday objects.

Sasaki resolutely taps and maneuvers burnt out lightbulbs in the hopes of reconnecting the broken filament and re-illuminating the bulb, if only fleetingly. He shakes a pendant lamp with a frayed cord, which illuminates briefly—tantalizingly—if shaken just so, before inevitably disconnecting again. When faced with the task of scaling a wall, he stacks small stepladders on top of one another. Sasaki’s relentlessness evokes the minor anxieties induced by the failure of everyday objects theoretically designed for convenience. At the same time, the futility of Sasaki’s actions transform these objects into conduits for improvisation—their original function shifts to a more fluid, open-ended space.

Improvised Travel Adapters (2018-ongoing) documents an ongoing series of temporary sculptures comprised of repurposed objects, jury rigged to serve as adapters for international electric sockets.  Well-intentioned warnings placed in hotel rooms urging travellers to avoid using multiple devices at once are scorned as Sasaki engineers travel adapters by jamming safety pins, paper clips, or nail files between a plug and a socket. Through this flirtation with failure – and possible electric shock – Sasaki evokes the disorientation of arriving somewhere new and being confronted with the need to improvise and make do, heightened by our intense dependence on electronic devices.

Sasaki’s videos operate as wry visual jokes that revel in the absurdities and frustrations of our relationship to the things that surround us and our habits of consumption. In the same breath, they offer a deeper meditation on our complicity in the destructive, cyclical process of consuming, discarding, and re-consuming manufactured goods.

  • Jon Sasaki

    Widely known as a “Romantic conceptualist,” Jon Sasaki’s many projects, videos, photographs, performances, objects, and installations often revolve around trying to reach dubious goals through perversely optimistic means. Currently based in Toronto, Jon Sasaki’s work has been exhibited in solo exhibitions at the Ottawa Art Gallery (2015); the Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Lethbridge (2011); the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (2011); as well as a 2015 performance project at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. Sasaki has participated in recent group exhibitions at the Nihonbashi Institute of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2018); National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul (2017); Platform Art Spaces, Melbourne (2014); and the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Toronto (2014). He has completed recent public art commissions for Sheridan College, Oakville, and the City of Barrie, Ontario, and – along with collaborator Jennifer Davis – was the recipient of a 2017 Concepts award from the Ontario Association of Architects. He was the recipient of the 2015 Canadian Glenfiddich Artists in Residence Prize (Dufftown, Scotland.) Sasaki holds a BFA from Mount Allison University, Sackville. He is represented by Clint Roenisch Gallery, Toronto.