Jon Sasaki in the Satchel Gallery (firstname.lastname@example.org), to July 31. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
What is art? One slick answer is that art is anything you find in an art gallery. Yeah, but what's an art gallery? Aha.
Toronto artist Anitra Hamilton is not the first to play with the space in which art is viewed, but her Satchel Gallery is unique. It's a small, slightly dirty yellow bag that hangs from her shoulder as she quietly moves through gallery openings and other art events. So what's in the bag?
Every month Hamilton curates a new artist who provides her with a portable piece. Recent works have included a slingshot by Alex B. Snukal and a small bottle of stones that artist Germaine Koh insisted were placebos.
This month, the fifth instalment in the Satchel Gallery features a work by Instant Coffee's Jon Sasaki. It's a good fit for Sasaki, whose work generally plays with the idea of art itself. The piece is a medium-sized hardcover black sketchbook on whose cover the title Satchel Gallery Guestbook is embossed in gold. Hamilton hands it out to anyone who would like to sign.
The result is a gallery guest book that is itself the work of art, in a gallery that is actually a bag. It has a laugh yet claims its legitimacy in the same breath.
The real fun, however, lies in the growing collection of writings and doodles in the book. Not only are people responding to Sasaki's idea, but they're also interacting with each other on the page, forming a random collaborative process. Sasaki wryly notes that it brings to mind the ritual signing of high-school annuals, but his intention of simply eliciting a response from people is a success.
Surely, Hamilton's charming curatorial delivery doesn't hurt.