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Sasaoka Yuriko

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Sasaoka Yuriko (b. 1988, based in Kyoto) is a multidisciplinary artist whose work mines myth and technology in a global context.

As a child, Sasaoka was enamored with marionettes, believing them to be symbols of agency and performative gesture—the visible strings a solemn reminder of the ways in which we are controlled. In one of her earliest works, "Atem" (2014-15), Sasaoka expresses a phobia of growing older and conforming to a single identity; in the video, we see gloved hands holding up puppet baby dolls with digitized faces that occasionally glitch, revealing an older, cartoonishly made up female figure. In another video, “Icarus’s Bride”(2015-16) life-size puppets and CGI-animated faces interpret the Greek myth of a foolhardy father and son, reframing the story instead as a cautionary tale of patriarchal oppression.

A more recent video installation, "Planaria" (2021), utilizes handmade fish-head dolls to illustrate the loss of agency in events of individual or collective trauma. Whether through hand puppets, traditional marionettes, or animated figures, Sasaoka challenges critical sociopolitical topics—the Asia-Pacific war, gender, and suicide—in her video installations, rendering the moving image and history itself as a fluid and conflicted narrative.

Her work has been shown at Setouchi Triennale, Reborn Art Festival, Kyoto Art Centre (Kyoto), Kuanda Museum of Fine Arts (Taipei), VBKÖ (Vienna), and TRAFO Center for Contemporary Art (Szczecin). She won Grand Prize at the Gunma Biennale for Young Artists in 2017. Her work is in the Japigozzi Collection and other private collections.

Yoriko
2021
Crayon, thread, canvas
60 × 30 cm

Installation view of "Pansy" (2022) at Reborn Art Festival, Miyagi, 2022. Photo by Taichi Saito.

Planaria Fish Doll: Belgium
2020-21
Fish head, resin, fabric, thread, rhinestone
30 x 13 x 4.5 cm


Installation view of "Disappear from the Earth," TRAFO Center for Contemporary Art, Szczecin, 2021-22.

Aura
2021
Crayon, thread, canvas
30 × 60 cm

Planaria Fish Painting: Strangling
2022
Acrylic, oil pastel, thread on canvas
30 x 21 cm


Planaria Fish Painting: Crushed
2022
Acrylic, oil pastel, thread on canvas
21 x 30 cm


Installation view "Planaria" at PHD Group. Photo credit: Felix S.C. Wong

Planaria Fish Painting: Famine
2022
Acrylic, oil pastel, thread on canvas
30 x 21 cm


Planaria Fish Doll: India
2020-21
Fish head, resin, fabric, thread, rhinestone
31 x 13 x 4.5 cm


Installation view of "Planaria" (2020-21) at PHD Group, Hong Kong, 2022.

Planaria Fish Doll: France
2020-21
Fish head, resin, fabric, thread, rhinestone
30 x 10 x 4.5 cm


Planaria Fish Doll: Poland
2020-21
Fish head, resin, fabric, thread, rhinestone
54 x 10 x 4.5 cm


Planaria Fish Painting: Struck by Train
2022
Acrylic, oil pastel, thread on canvas
21 x 30 cm


Installation view of "Pansy" (2022) at Reborn Art Festival, Miyagi, 2022. Photo by Taichi Saito.

Icarus
2021
Crayon, thread, canvas
60 × 30 cm

Installation view "Planaria" at PHD Group. Photo credit: Felix S.C. Wong

Clip (without sound) from Bodybuilding in the Water (2012-2013), 3 minutes 58 seconds.

Clip (without sound) from Atem (2014-15), 4 minutes 2 seconds.

Clip (without sound) from Gyro (2018). 5 minutes and 45 seconds.

Clip (without sound) of Icarus's Bride (2015-16). 7 minutes 43 seconds.

Installation clip of "Pansy" (2022) at Reborn Art Festival, Miyagi, 2022.

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