“In this world everything is a source of interest. And yet just one step ahead lies darkness. So we should cast off all gloomy thoughts about our earthy lot and enjoy the pleasures of snow, moon, flowers and autumn leaves and drinking wine; living our lives like a gourd bobbing buoyantly downstream. This is the floating world.”—novels of c. 1665, Ukiyo Monogatari, (Tales of the Floating World).
After moving away from Japan, I have felt a stronger urge to connect to Japanese culture, consuming ancient Japanese love stories, examining ukiyo-e paintings, and revisiting my childhood memories. My work is derived from these influences as I explore my own imaginative world, my ukiyo or “floating world”. I am interested in creating a surreal and eccentric mood to express a dream-like state of being. I am also interested in polarities: innocence and aggression, loneliness and playfulness, formation and explosion. My ukiyo is about human beings surviving reality, contemplating loss, escape, isolation, and self-distraction in modern life. The simple, yet abrupt gestures performed in these images imply freedom and childlikeness, an expression of hopelessness, and a universally shared loss of innocence. The concept of “floating” allows ordinary life to become more extraordinarily focused, transitioning pleasures and freedom from the cares and concerns of the earthly world.
Kanako Sasaki was born and raised in Sendai, Japan. She received a BA in Journalism from Ithaca College in 2001 and her MFA in Photography, Video, and Related Media from the School of Visual Arts in 2004 before attending the Royal College of Art in London, England in 2007. Sasaki’s work has been exhibited internationally at the Guardian Garden and Art Cocoon Galleries (Tokyo, Japan), Kiosko Galleria (Santa Cruz, Bolivia), Liget Gallery (Budapest, Hungary), and the gallery at Light Work (Syracuse, NY), among others. In 2006, Kanako was selected as one of PDN’s 30 “Emerging Photographers to Watch” and in 2008 she was selected for the Shiseido Art Egg Award in Tokyo, Japan. She has been awarded numerous residencies including a Baer residency in Iceland, a MoKs artist residency in Estonia, and a Bundeskanzleramt Kunst residency in Vienna, Austria.
Kanako Sasaki was an artist in residence at CPW in 2007.