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View of “Atsuko Tanaka: The Art of Connecting,” 2011. From left: Spring 1966; Work 1968; Work ’91A, 1991.

Atsuko Tanaka

View of “Atsuko Tanaka: The Art of Connecting,” 2011. From left: Spring 1966; Work 1968; Work ’91A, 1991.

STANDING BAREFOOT ON A BEACH, Atsuko Tanaka drags the handle of an ice ax in an arc through the sand, drawing a circle around her body and closing it with extraordinary precision. The artist then steps out of this loop, moving sinuously but purposefully across the beach to trace a vast network of circles connected, traversed, and lassoed by lines. Captured in grainy 16-mm film, these furrows appear like skeins of rope, soon to be dragged from the shore as the camera pulls back to show the tide rolling in. Playful yet calculated, organic yet contrived, the spooled lines roll the timeless cycles of nature into the incessant whirr of the camera’s apparatus.

The proliferating circles of this mesmerizing film, titled Round on Sand, 1968, were a central gesture throughout the sixty-plus works in the important and timely exhibition “Atsuko Tanaka: The Art of Connecting” at the Ikon Gallery

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