(play the washboard with cooking utensils in the courtyard)
(take sheets from the clothes line and bring them inside to start a wash cycle)
Nobody knows what permanent press really means.
I used to be a model student at school, diligent work force at home, but secretly I was a bully in the town. When I think about the kind of things I did at a single digit age, it horrifies me. I used to lock up a girl I liked in the gymnasium, the weird pleasure. It’s funny what kind of memory you pick up from a childhood, like the mean things I’ve done, or the mean things that’s done to me.
When you have something you wanna forget, that’s when you do laundry. The sour feelings, like a feeling that pulling out the legs off of a grasshopper. Why do kids do that?
I remember, I was walking home one day. It was when I was a total bully, and I felt like everything was under control. And that particular day I was walking down the street, going home, and somehow I caught this sight; on the exterior wall of my house, was this little scribble, and it went “Sasamoto is Idiot.”
And it shocked me, because I thought everything was under control, you know. It shocked me so much that I just kept walking into my gate, as if nothing strange, and just went home. I knew it was written in a permanent black ink marker. Possible methods to remove that graffiti? But I couldn’t come up with any good idea. The next day I ignored it, the following day also I kind of ignored it, and I kept ignoring. And I don’t remember the details, but I just remember my scanning through inside the head, who it might be.
And it shocked me, because I thought everything was under control, you know. It shocked me so much that I just kept walking into my gate, and just went home. I knew it was a permanent black ink marker. Possible methods to remove that graffiti? And I couldn’t come up with any good idea. The next day I ignored it, the following day also I kind of ignored it, and I kept ignoring. And I don’t remember the details, but I just remember that scanning through the head, who it might be.
Around that same time, I really liked going to the library after school and reading, and I met this book: The Book of Insects by Jean-Henri Fabre. I was obsessed with the book, obsessed with his observations of how dung beetles work. The literature itself was interesting but imagining this character, this Fabre, going into fields and just writing leaves after leaves of extensive observations on insects in the middle of nowhere! I thought, “What a freak!”
(go inside the washer and read The Book of Insects while being spun)
“Chapter II: The Sacred Beetle
I: The Ball
It is six or seven thousand years since the Sacred Beetle was first talked about. The peasant of ancient Egypt, as he watered his patch of onions in the spring, would see from time to time a fat black insect pass close by, hurriedly trundling a ball backwards.
The early Egyptians fancied that this ball was a symbol of the earth, and that all the Scarab’s actions were prompted by the movements of the heavenly bodies. So much knowledge of astronomy in a Beetle seemed to them almost divine, and that is why he is called the Sacred Beetle. The ball he rolls so carefully is made of his sweepings from the roads and fields.
This is how he sets about it. The edge of his broad flat head is notched with six teeth arranged in a semi-circle; and this he uses for digging and cutting up. The Beetle then presses the stuff against his body with his hind-legs, curving it and spinning it round and round till it forms a perfect ball.
When the ball of provisions is ready it must be moved to a suitable place. The Beetle begins the journey. He clasps the ball with his long hind-legs and walks with his fore-legs, moving backwards with his head down and his hind-quarters in the air. He pushes his load behind him by alternate thrusts to right and left. One would expect him to choose a level road, or at least a gentle incline. Not at all! Let him find a steep incline, he will choose the worse possible path. The worst worse possible path.., the movement all this toil is, always backwards… Then by some rash movement all this toil is wasted: the ball rolls down, dragging the Beetle with it. Once more the heights are climbed, and another fall is the result. …
… Sometimes the Scarab seems to enter into a partnership with a friend. This is the way in which it usually happens. When the Beetle’s ball is ready he leaves the crowd of workers, pushing his prize backwards. A neighbor, whose own task is hardly begun, suddenly drops his work and runs to the moving ball, to lend a hand to the owner. His aid seems to be accepted willingly. But he new-comer is not really a partner: he is a robber. To make one’s own ball needs hard work and patience. To make one’s own ball needs hard work and patience! But to steal one ready-made, or to invite oneself to a neighbor’s dinner, is much easier. Some thieving Beetles go to work craftily, others use violence.”
(taxidermy birds with CCTV cameras watching the sheets ball)
(push the ball of white sheets in corridor of lights)
I was a model student at school, secretly a bully in the town, but I was a diligent work force at home. I used to do laundry everyday.
So there was a man in my town, who was always walking around, I don’t know what he was doing. And he always caught me when I was coming out to hang laundry; he knew exactly what time I was coming out. I don’t even remember the details, but he was a bald man, with maybe a few hair. I don’t remember the details, but I remember his eyebrows; really bushy eyebrows. He’s a kind of man who’d lecture you about what’s wrong in the world. He hated technological advances of any kind. And I remember that he called me Laundry Kid. And every time he was to catch me, I was trying to avoid him. In fact all the kids in the town, whenever he was coming from the corner, tried to get away from him. Nonetheless he sometimes caught you, and lectured you the same things. Like his memory from the world war II, and how terrible that people’re manipulated by machines now… And you know, out of respect, I tried to face him as if listening, while I’d remove my soul off of my body. Tried to go up, up above the sky and see the situation from a different perspective. Like a bird.
(lift up Hex-Washroom from the inside like a self-elevator system)
The bird sees a situation from a different perspective and understands things. It’s like a scholar reading Art. Opposed to that, the dung beetle experiences everything right in front, in details. Dung beetles experience every detail; experience the consequence of every event, rolling in front of her.
Today I saw a screw sticking out. I saw a drop of paint from the last exhibition. I saw a little lint from somebody’s winter coat. EVERY DETAIL MATTERS.
(discover a tube of toothpaste stuck up on the ceiling and go on top of Hex-Washroom only to come back inside and apply toothpaste to “Idiot”)
In the Internet I saw that you can use the toothpaste to remove the stain of permanent marker. So I’m gonna try that.
The bird looks at the situation from the up above and thinks, “What an idiot!”
What kind life would you like to have? Do you wanna have a bird perspective? Or touch things and experience things down on the ground?
One time he caught me. While he’s talking to me, and I was focusing on his eyebrows so hard, there was this bird that landed up above. I didn’t see it. She dropped her feces smack in the middle of the forehead, in between the eyebrows that I was focusing on. And I was trying really hard, looking at him, trying to ignore that funniest droplets in between his eyebrows, scanning through all sorts of ways, how to delete that dot from his face.
(move utensils and markers on different locations with embedded magnets on the walls and lift Hex-Washroom from inside)
(swing D-Washroom from inside, move the headlamp and utensils)
So in that town, the old man with the eyebrows was always walking around during the day. Now that I think of it, maybe he was kicked out of his house or something sad, but we didn’t know. All we knew, we the kids, were like; okay, we gotta have to call him something polite, so that we can get away from his lecturing. We called him Wise Man, just to get out of his lecturing. But at the same time we just didn’t know where to place him in the world.
(play the vent with the toothbrush and sing inside while rocking)
Some stain, some stain is conceptual.
Some stain, some stain performs the time-difference attack. You think you forgot it but it comes back after fifteen years.
Some stain is so hard to get rid of, like bad memory. You need the right detergent.
Right chemical. Right chemical, right chemical.
You need the right chemical to remove the stains.
(take the washed wet sheets outside to dry on the clothesline)
Photo: Kyle Knodell
Movie: Delicate Cycle
Movie based on performance
Birds, Dung Beetles, the Washer
Video work screened as part of installation
Sasamoto spins inside a washing machine, rolls a 6-foot tall ball of bedsheets, activates the washroom stalls, as pondering about dung beetles, birds eye view, cleanliness, and idiocy of physical work. Abstracted washroom stalls with tiled floors have magnets embedded in the walls and ceilings that host markers, cooking utensils, and headlamps. They are rigged like human elevators so that Sasamoto can rotate them from inside to change their orientation, and eventually escape from the air vents. A performance lasts for the duration of a washing cycle.
“Aki Sasamoto: Delicate Cycle,” commissioned by SculptureCenter, New York
11th Shanghai Biennale “Why Not Ask Again? Arguments, Counter-arguments and Stories,” Power Station of Art, Shanghai
Yebisu International Festival for Art & Alternative Visions 2017 “Multiple Future,” Tokyo Photographic Art Museum, Tokyo