Aki Sasamoto ’07 Receives Prestigious 2023 Calder Prize

Carlos Barragán
May 24, 2023

Visual Arts alumna Aki Sasamoto ’07 has been honored with the prestigious 2023 Calder Prize, receiving a $50,000 cash award and the opportunity to have one of her artworks featured in a major public collection. The Calder Prize, presented by the Calder Foundation and supported by the Scone Foundation, is a highly esteemed biennial award given to a contemporary artist whose innovative work exemplifies the enduring legacy of the American sculptor Alexander Calder.

“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 like equations or sounds in unpredictable ways. This intangibility keeps us engaged and somehow coalesces into magical coherence. The resulting energy resonates with my grandfather's own experiential art.”

New York-based artist Sasamoto, the ninth recipient of the Calder Prize since its creation, has been a prominent figure in the contemporary art scene for over a decade, captivating audiences with her fusion of installation work and performance art. Sasamoto's exhibitions often feature everyday objects and gestures, infusing them with new life and meaning, while her performances are marked by an absurdist sense of humor.

“When volumes exert their ownness, and behave like living characters in our psyche, those sculptures truly occupy the same space as us,” said Sasamoto. “I like how sculptures can blur the line between art and life like that.”

Aki Sasamoto works with sculpture, performance, and video. Her art can be found in gallery spaces, theater venues, and unconventional sites. Her installation and performance pieces have been exhibited at SculptureCenter, The Kitchen, Chocolate Factory Theater, Whitney Biennial 2010, Greater New York 2010 at MoMA PS1, New York; National Museum of Art-Osaka, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Yokohama Triennale 2008, Japan; Gwangju Biennial 2012, South Korea; Shanghai Biennale 2016, China; Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016, India; and numerous other international and domestic venues. Sasamoto has received grants from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, The New York Foundation for the Arts, The New York Community Trust, The Rema Hort Mann Foundation, the Agency for Cultural Affairs of the Japanese Government, and more. Last year, Sasamoto exhibited in the 59th edition of the renowned International Art Exhibition, the Venice Biennale.