Thursday, July 20, 2017
Fatal Love; Lucid Dreams and Distant Visions

This summer the Queens Museum in conjunction with the Asia Society’s Lucid Dreams and Distant Visions: South Asian Art in the Diaspora hosted a three-day event that brought together renown South Asian American artists, academics, and curators. The symposium, titled Fatal Love: Where are We Now?, celebrated contemporary South Asian American art and explored issues concerning the South Asian American diaspora.

Photo by Bob Lee
This event was not the first the Queens Museum hosted. Back in 2005, the museum hosted a very similar event, called Fatal Love: South Asian American Art Now. This symposium was created and curated as a response to the increased policing of South Asians in the post-9/11 era and the growing South Asian American artistic community. Since then, there have been significant changes in the South Asian American community and art world. Fatal Love: Where are We Now?, as its title indicates, asks and answers where the South Asian American artistic community is now, twelves years later. It is a sequel to the first Fatal Love, yet also the first of its kind: delving into new, interesting topics.  

Photo by Bob Lee

This year’s three day event held back-to-back performances, panels, and lectures, all of which were recorded and can be viewed on the Queens Museum’s YouTube page. Day 1, which was held at the Asia Society, included an introductory speech by those who made this even possible a panel discussion called Double Duty: Agency and Cultural Production. The following two days were held at the Queens Museums and included panels discussions from sculpture and photography to public art and queer theory. These panels were not only about the art pieces, but larger issues at hand.

Photo by Bob Lee
In addition to these panels and performances, the open exhibit included works by Shahxia Sikander, Kanishka Raja, and Jaret Vadera and many more. Furthermore, AAAC has exhibited various artists from this exhibit including Chitra Ganesh, Mariam Ghani, Vandana Jain, Naeem Mohaiemen, and Zarina. These artists used different mediums and engaged in different dialogues.

Shahzia Sikander, Eye-i-ing Those Amorial Bearings, 1989-97, vegetable, dry pigment, tea on wasli paper.

Add caption Kanisha Raja, I and I (TRANSLATE); SW1, 2015-16, handwoven cotton thread, hand embroidered silk, acrylic pain, and UV-cured solvent-based inks on cotton.
Jaret Vardera, Emperor of No Country, 2016, print on fabric. 
Fatal Love accomplished -- most spectacularly -- in bringing together artists, curators, academics, and the public to have a rich and engaging dialogue about the issues confronting the South Asian American community, particularly in light of the recent 2016 presidential election. It is an event the Queens Museum should continue to host in the coming years, as they should continue to ask: Where are We Now?
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A Tribute to Toshio Sasaki

This year marks 10th year since world-renown sculptor and architect, Toshio Sasaki (1946 - 2007), passed away. He was one of the main artists AAAC worked with during his long career. By the end, he vied to bring his aesthetic ideas to the World Trade Center memorial and came close to achieving it. To commemorate him and his work, this summer the OSSAM Gallery in Brooklyn hosted a memorial exhibition that included his works, as well as works by well-known artist, Osamu Shimoda (1924 - 2000). These two extraordinary artists, born in Japan and later based in the United States, bridged the gap between the East and the West. Sasaki, in particular, fused the East and West in his creative and illuminating sculptural and architectural designs.

Born in Kyoto, Japan in 1947, Toshio Sasaki studied art and architecture at the Aichi University of Fine Arts. He later moved into New York City in 1974, creating fantastic works in public spaces. In 1988, he exhibited Sun Gate, a drawing, for AAAC’s Exhibit for Public Art in Chinatown and it was later included in AAAC’s catalogue.

Sun Gate by Toshio Sasaki, 1988 

The piece is a sketch of the Manhattan Bridge and an idea for a monument to its entrance. According to Sasaki, “I hope the Gate will impart a new ‘time’ irradiation to the old society, and traditional meanings. I think of this Sun Gate rising like a phoenix from the ashes of its own urban past.” Although the gate was never constructed, it shows Sasaki’s understanding of complex geometric forms and principles, as well as his knowledge of the neighborhood and its history. 

Sasaki’s interest and creativity in designing monuments was translated in his submission for the World Trade Center Site Memorial Competition in 2003. His memorial entry, titled Inversion of Light, was a moving creation that sought to incorporate the four universal elements: light, water, air, and earth. For Sasaki, each element represented a different aspect of being and living. The memorial, which included a wall of names, a street-level park, and a reflection pool, was to be a serene, peaceful place for remembrance and contemplation. Sasaki emphasized that his memorial was to be a “living memorial,” one dedicated to peace, truth, and posterity. While Sasaki’s proposal was ultimately not selected, like the Sun Gate, this entry pushed the boundaries of memorial architecture. To learn more about and see Sasaki’s design, please visit this link:

Back in the fall of 2012, AAAC visited Sasaki’s studio, maintained by his wife, Miyo Sasaki. She works to support young Japanese artists, providing them with studio space and general support. While the studio is a space for this new up-and-coming artists, it is still home to Toshio’s work. To learn more about and see Toshio Sasaki’s studio, please read the 2012 article: More recently, Miyo has created and completed a video about her husband. This short video, not currently available for public viewing, was a retrospective, documenting Sasaki’s great accomplishments throughout his life. Please reach out to AAAC or Miyo Sasaki to learn more about this video.

Although it has been 10 years since Sasaki’s passing, his ingenuity and artistic talent continue to live on in the art communities he was a part of. As an accomplished artist, sculptor, and architect, Sasaki had a profound effect on the aesthetic and artistic concepts of geometry, space, and time. He is a pioneer in the Asian and Asian American arts world.

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