Atem (2016 Setouchi Triennale)

Atem was a very trippy video art project that must be watched to understand what is happening.  I really had a hard time understanding what everything was about but when I looked into things it started to make sense in an artistic way.  Yukiko Sasaoka has a very strange style that combined life sized puppets with video recordings.  Thankfully a lot of the videos are available online so you can actually see what I saw in Atem.

Entrance to Atem

Atem took place in a large building.  The front entrance area was a small section with information on how Yukiko Sasaoka created Atem as well as a few other musings.  I couldn’t really understand everything but you could see some of the characters that you would see in Atem.  The front area also had a seating area that was a common area where you could eat lunch and just relax if you wanted.  I didn’t see anyone actually using the place to rest like I did and most people seemed to just pass through it very quickly.

Foyer of Atem

The video rooms were split into two sections, the “2012-2015” and “The Bride of Icarus” sections.  I was confused by things at first but the 2012-2015 section was a collection of videos that Yukiko Sasaoka did in that time period.  You can see her videos develop from the strange to the absurd.  It was a very strange feeling to be in that room and hearing and seeing all of the videos.  Many of the videos had no sound in the “theatre” but all of the videos had sound when I watched them online.

2012~2015 (Atem)


“The Bride of Icarus” was the new piece made for the Setouchi Triennale.  It was a long video that told a tale of Icarus and how he flew too close to the sun before dying.  Thankfully the video was subtitled but the heat was really hard to bear.  The theatre for “The Bride of Icarus” was really nice.  There were decorative lights on top of the screen and a few cushions to relax on.  I stood the entire time as the fans were in the back of the room and provided the best way to keep cool.  The video itself was really trippy and I felt like I should have taken drugs to enjoy it completely.  Obviously you don’t but if you watch the video you can really understand what I mean.

Bride of Icarus

Bride of Icarus

Yukiko Sasaoka has a very crazy style with her videos.  Atem was a fun video exhibit and while I thought the videos were really strange, the more I watched them the more I enjoyed it.  I found the imagery to be a bit crude overall but it works really well with what she is doing.  I don’t think this artwork is for everyone and I’m sure there are a lot of people who will think it is just strange.  I felt the same at first but somehow this artwork did grow on me a lot.


YouTube Videos

Sample of Yukiko Sasaoka’s Works

Note:  Atem is no longer available on Shodoshima.


  • Atem (Official Setouchi Triennale Site)
  • Yukiko Sasaoka (Official Site – Japanese Only)