Toronto-based multidisciplinary artist, Jon Sasaki, has been awarded the 2015 Canadian Glenfiddich Artists in Residence Prize for his work that aims to test the limits of sociability, conviviality, sustainability of actions, hope and enthusiasm. Sasaki works in various media, including video, performance, installation and sculpture, to make work that often combines equal parts pathos and humour. There is always a hopefulness that underlies his tragic comedy; even the most futile situations contain the possibility of a positive outcome.
Sasaki is one of only eight artists from around the world awarded the art community's coveted 2015 Glenfiddich Artists in Residence Prize - to live and work at the distillery in Dufftown, Scotland. While in Dufftown, the artists live in crofts and are encouraged to find inspiration from the pastoral setting in the Scottish Highlands. One of the specific benefits is to work in an international artists' community, to share in a dialogue with one another and to foster cross-disciplinary ideas. The Glenfiddich Artists in Residence Prize covers the cost of travel, living expenses and working materials during the residency. The three-month residency, valued at $20,000 per artist, represents the Glenfiddich commitment to the arts and the communities it serves.
Andy Fairgrieve, curator of the Glenfiddich Artists in Residence Prize was first to share the news from Dufftown, "We are very proud that the Artists in Residence Prize appeals to so many of Canada's leading and emerging artists," says Fairgrieve. "The range of scope of the submissions is a true reflection of the creative exploration going on in Canada today. While it was not easy to make the final selection from an exceptional pool of entries, in the end it was the clear passion and spirit for adventure contained in Jon’s proposal which came through the strongest.”
Upon learning of his win, Sasaki stated, “I am thrilled with the news! The opportunity to spend three months at the distillery in Scotland is very exciting and I am eager to make work that responds to such a historically rich site. The Romantic Movement has strongly influenced my practice over the years, and I imagine the surrounding area will be a very fitting place to investigate those Romantic tendencies. To have the time and space to explore, to learn and to take everything in and allow everything to run through my artistic filters will be productive for me I believe. I have some ideas of what I want to make in Dufftown but I’d also like to leave open the possibility for unexpected artistic detours.”
Jon Sasaki "Hand Catching Fireworks" video still
Jon Sasaki "I promise it will always..."
Jon Sasaki "I want to be welcome everywhere, always"
Jon Sasaki "The Romantic Journey was usually a solitary one"
Fairgrieve went on to say, “Jon Sasaki’s works tap into a rich vein of glorious endeavour which embraces the possibility of failure as much as it does success. His enquiring approach coupled with the healthy sense of humour evident in many of his previous works will for the residency be focused on an exploration of what he terms as the ‘The Exceptional Singular.’ It is such an outlook that instantly identifies him as a natural fit to the Glenfiddich ethos.”
The distinguished jury panel – Dr. Sara Diamond, president of Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD) University, Gaetane Verna, director of The Power Plant, Adelina Vlas, associate curator of modern and contemporary art at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), Julian Sleath, programming manager of special events, economic development and culture at the City of Toronto, the Canadian 2008 Glenfiddich Artists in Residence Prize recipient, Dave Dyment – arrived at the shortlist of eight finalists and ultimately, Andy Fairgrieve, curator of the Glenfiddich Artists in Residence Prize, selected the 2015 Glenfiddich Artists in Residence Prize recipient.
The Glenfiddich Artists in Residence Prize has sponsored more than 100 artists since its inception since 2002. Canadian artists include artistic duo, Rhonda Weppler and Trevor Mahovsky (2014), Daniel Barrow (2013), Jillian Mcdonald (2012), Helen Cho (2011), Damian Moppett (2010), Arabella Campbell (2009), Dave Dyment (2008), Jonathon Kaiser (2007), Annie Pootoogook (2006) and Myfanwy Macleod (2005).
About Jon Sasaki
Jon Sasaki is a Toronto-based multidisciplinary artist, whose practice frequently borrows Conceptual Art strategies, redeploying them in work with an emotionally resonant core. While his projects often employ both humour and pathos, they do so in the service of addressing the fraught and fragile nature of human interactions. Sasaki’s work can at times be mildly and intentionally antagonistic towards audiences and participants; he aims to test the limits of sociability, audience generosity, sustainability of actions, conviviality, hope, enthusiasm. Projects invariably risk and even court failure. For Sasaki, tragedy is an inevitable by-product of a practice that is aspirational at its core.
Sasaki’s work has been exhibited in numerous solo exhibitions, recently at the Ottawa Art Gallery, (Ottawa, ON); the Tom Thomson Art Gallery (Owen Sound, ON); Dunlop Art Gallery (Regina SK); MacLaren Art Centre (Barrie, ON); the Southern Alberta Art Gallery, (Lethbridge, AB); and the Art Gallery of Ontario. Recent group exhibitions include Platform Art Spaces (Melbourne Australia); Nihonbashi Institute of Contemporary Art, (Tokyo, Japan); Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (Toronto, ON); The Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, (Toronto, ON); Pace University Digital Gallery, (New York, NY); and Dazibao (Montréal, QC); and Oakville Galleries. Sasaki holds a BFA from Mount Allison University (Sackville, NB) and is represented by Jessica Bradley Gallery in Toronto.
Sasaki holds a BFA from Mount Allison University.
Report courtesy William Grant & Sons.