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Artist Aki Sasamoto’s installations are often comprised of everyday found objects that pertain to food, health, hygiene, and orderliness. These installations are frequently activated through the artist’s performances, delivering poetic narratives that also respond critically to social conditions.
Presented here are three elements from Sasamoto’s Yield Point (2017), which employs the tensile stress test, a test designed to determine the elasticity of materials by stretching or bending them with specialized devices as an allegory for life. “Most incidents in life can be explained within this elastic limit,” the artist has said. Two videos titled Flex Test — Steel, Tensile Test — Steel/Brass and Trash Bag Tensile Test show metallic pieces and trash bags put under pressure until they reach their yield points—the level of stress beyond which a material begins to deform materially.
There is also a frame stretching a trash bag, implying a subtle yet constant violence. Originally intended to explore the “yield points” of different individuals and how their “elastic constants” may shape them, the work takes on new meanings in the context of this biennial: not only are individuals experiencing the stress that life exerts on them, but shared ecosystems and collective cultures, among other things, are also enduring immense pressures in the age of the Anthropocene. The tensile stress test, then, embodies the violence of a calculating kind of technics sanctioned by global capitalism, which seeks to maximize measurable results by exploiting often incomputable things—be it nature, culture, or human experience—relentlessly suspending them in these precarious zones just at the limit of their invisible yield points.