Grasping at Straw.jpg

​Grasping at Straws

8th (Sat) - 28th (Fri) October, 2022

Curated by 

Stephen Sarrazin


Pascal Lièvre

Mihai Grecu

Tove Kjellmark

Taysir Batniji

John Sanborn

Gary Hill

Cathy Burghi


This group show is a response to the fiction of a post-pandemic world, as it either reopened, constructed a fiction that it had reopened, or continued to remain closed.  The issues that seemed dormant during the months of confinement -wars, colonial occupation, climate change, harassment, the challenge to the rights of women, new forms of racism- returned with a renewed energy. The works in this exhibition use different strategies to confront these issues; they challenge, denounce, explain, and remind us of what was restless, using poetic tools and documentary intentions, traditional practices and new media. The selected works side with frailty and risk, collapse and reconstruction, with a history of loss that echoes current grief, rage, and resistance.


Artists Profiles

Pascal Lièvre (France).


List of works shown

Variations of Love, glitter powder on paper, 2022

Rêver l'Obscur, Japan Dream, video, 2021

Black Roses, glitter powder on paper, 2015


Pascal Lièvre is pursuing the Herstory project, a six-year collaboration with critic and curator Julie Crenn, consisting of feminist filmed interviews. The next series will take place in Berlin in 2023 at the Kunstverein Tiergarden, for the exhibition Voices. He will also take part in the exhibition, Exposé.e.s, at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, in February 2023; he will show a series of historical works made in the 90s. He will join in workshops held during the exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo, with the association les amie.s du Patchworks des Noms, with which he has been working on archives for a year. This association (the friends of the names patchwork) listens to the stories and statements of women in France who are HIV-positive).



Mihai Grecu (France Romania)


List of works shown

  • We'll become oil, HD video & animation, 8',  2013

  • Under the centipede sun, 4K video, 8', 2012



Tove Kjellmark (Sweden).


Work shown

  • Inside, 9:31 min HD video and 5.1 sound. 


Music: Carl-Michael Herlöfsson


Taysir Batniji (Palestine/France)


Works shown

  • Untitled, video, 1'59, 2002

  • Departure, video, 3'27, 2003


John Sanborn (USA)


The ZKM in Karlsruhe is currently holding a major exhibition of John Sanborn's work, curated by Stephen Sarrazin


Works shown

From the series Intimate Archeology, photography, video, AR, 2022

Artist statement:


Intimate Archeology (10 studies of arrested time) As you listen, in order to get to know someone very well, and they take the time And Care to reveal themselves to you, a trace transfer occurs. Part of their DNA slides over into your consciousness, and some of your instinctual cleverness joins their blood. Model and creator are one. The unaided eye cannot see these minute exchanges, so we allow technology to join the party. Many deceits hide each layer of life, and we strip away the nuance to hind-thought of gold. El Dorado. The outcome of the experiment is to hide in plain sight that which would be otherwise undiscovered. A wisp of truth is melded into a skin of infinite elasticity and beauty. Ripped by the shredding of time, using scans of invisible wisdom and probing faith, this archeology revels in human activity, as revealed by immaterial forces. Or as the poet says, “when you get to be my age, you are not  compared to others. You are compared to your own history. Intimate Archeology's selection from a series of works, created by John Sanborn with Sarah Cecelia Bukowsky. The two are long time collaborators, so have a learned understanding of their intentions, gestures and desires. Using this and aided by lidar and photometric scanning, a choreography of distorted space and time is rendered into 3D objects, initiated by Bukowsky’s body. Each work is physically represented by a QR code in the exhibition, which once scanned using the AR app EyeJack, prompts a video to appear on a mobile device. This hidden essentiality is virtue unleashed.



Gary Hill (USA).


Gary Hill and Steina Vasulka are currently showing in Iceland. Catalogue essay by Stephen Sarrazin


Work shown

Place Holder, 2019, HD video, multi-channel audio, LCD monitor (16:9 format | dimensions variable), media player and video file


Place Holder sees the artist himself, repeatedly flipping a coin until he drops it and drops out of the frame (about every 14 minute) at which point the sound of the coin hitting the ground takes center stage circulating around the space until it comes to a halt. The action, as if to question chance, or hope of a different outcome, also touches on questions of artificial intelligence and perhaps even a cursory nod to the magic trick.


Cathy Burghi (Uruguay/Brazil)


Works shown

From the series Le Rouge et le Noir, watercolor on paper, 2021 (photo coming soon)


Cathy Burghi studied art at Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes in Montevideo, and at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil. However, Burghi has developed most of her work in France where she moved in 2007. Burghi’s work is made up of drawings, installations, performances, among others, which makes her a multidisciplinary artist, and her areas of interest are cultural and female identity, memory, and migration. Since 2006, Burghi has held solo and group exhibitions in salons, biennials, galleries and international cultural centers .  


 Curator Profile


Stephen Sarrazin


Stephen Sarrazin is a film and moving image professor, critic and curator living in Tokyo and working between Tokyo and Paris. He lectures at Paris 8 University. He has been a visiting professor at the Tokyo University of Art, as well as Aoyama University. He has guest-lectured at other notable institutions including Columbia University, New York University, Buffalo University, Ontario College of Design, Yale, Oxford, Edinburgh, as well as numerous faculties across Asia. 


He has contributed to art and film publications, including Art Press, Art Forum, Flash Art, HK Extreme Orient, Cahiers du Cinema, Parachute, InterCommunication.


He has published books on artist Gary Hill (I Believe It is an Image, Watari-um, 1992) and Surfing the Medium (Chimaera 1993), and on Japanese artist Akino Kondoh. He edited the first French monograph on Lynn Hershman Leeson. In 2015, he published a collection of essays and interviews on contemporary Japanese cinema (Reponses du Cinema Japonais, Lettmotif, 2014). He was co-editor in chief of the film and media art journal, Mondes du Cinema (published in France by Lettmotif 2013-2018). 


He has curated numerous installation exhibitions in Europe and Japan, and programmed video art screenings around the world for more than two decades, in museums, galleries and independent art spaces, with artists such as Gary Hill, Bill Viola, Shelly Silver, Eija Liisa Ahtila, Tony Oursler, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Mako Idemitsu etc. He has curated exhibitions by media artist John Sanborn in Berlin, Bangkok, Bourges and Paris. He published a monograph on his work, Meandres et Medias. 


In 2022, he curated ‘Between Order and Entropy, the media art of John Sanborn’ at the ZKM in Karlsruhe, Germany. He is currently editing the accompanying catalogue, to be published in the Fall of 2022.


With Yangyu Zhang, he is the co-founder of



​Grasping at Straws


8th (Sat) - 28th (Fri) October, 2022

Opening Hours


Closed on

Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Public Holidays


The 5th Floor: Hanazono Alley 5F 3-3-9 IkenohataTaito-ku Tokyo


4 minutes walk from Exit 2 of Nezu Station (Chiyoda line) 


500yen   ​※Free admission for stuudents


The 5th Floor

Patronage for The 5th Floor


Curated by

Stephen Sarrazin


Pascal Lièvre, Mihai Grecu, Tove Kjellmark, Taysir Batniji, John Sanborn, Gary Hill, Cathy Burghi


Wataru Shoji


The 5th