Artist Ayakamay explores the interrelationship between photography and performance. She simultaneously appropriates traditional Japanese cultural aesthetics and creates a dialogue with contemporary American urbanity and femininity…..
Text JF. Pierets Artwork Pyuupiru
‘I can never create work that lies.’ With those words Japanese visual artist Pyuupiru captures exactly the sensation an audience experiences when looking at her work. Starting off as a creator of eccentric costumes designed as clubwear that distorted her figure, Pyuupiru soon evolved into being a creation herself, documenting the struggles that came with her transformation from a male to a female body. An exploration of physical and psychological transformation that lead to the ‘Self-portrait Series’: a photographic work, created over several years, that documents the artist’s experience of sex reassignment surgery in a more than emotional and empathic way. As a spectator you are taken on a genuine and true voyage under the artist’s skin, leaving you behind with the hope that Pyuupiru will once become a very happy girl.
Your work is based on delusions and obsessions. Is this on a personal level?
Yes, only on a personal level since my body is the core of my work.
The ‘Self-portrait Series’ explores physical and psychological transformation. How did you find your form, your language, to express those series?
The work portrays images occurring in my mind. My personal memory of boyhood, nightmares caused by hormone replacement therapy and psychoactive drugs, and ideal self-image. All these elements combined resulted in my ‘Self-portrait Series’. Yet the final images were envisioned without any logic. They just happened.
How important is the concept of gender to you? Both as an artist and on a personal level?
I am an artist and an individual person at the same time. I can only be me. Basically my opinion on gender comes from my personal experience and struggle, so it remains the same in both circumstances. I am unintentionally projecting my opinion on gender onto my artwork yet I find it wonderful if my work triggers other people to face themselves sincerely.
When and why did you decide to fully go for sex reassignment surgery?
It was in July 2007. I ended my one-way love for a straight man, an experience that made me decide to get sex reassignment surgery. I was into hormone replacement therapy and castration since 2003. So already sexually neutral. Looking back, I can say the decision for sex reassignment surgery didn’t come out of the blue but was rather a part of the process that I was gradually going through.
‘My work portrays images occurring in my mind. My personal memory of boyhood, nightmares caused by hormone replacement therapy and psychoactive drugs, and ideal self-image.’
Your images are quite aggressive. Can you tell me why?
I hated the consciousness of my own body and gender.I like strong expressions because I am mentally weak.
What do you want your spectators to see/feel/experience?
I want my viewers to see and feel something beyond shapes, forms and visual elements. In other words, I want them to experience the spirit living in my artwork, to feel afresh when leaving the gallery.
You also do performances. What are you aiming for?
I try to create performances that confront the audience with momentarily power, beat, energy, atmosphere, unexpectedness and spontaneity. I don’t impose any opinion on the spectators. It is up to them what they want to feel. I can only think of the phrase ‘wholeness of existence’ to describe my performance work.
You started off designing wild, handmade costumes. You evolved into physical metamorphosis. Is this – for you – a logical evolution?
Yes. As time goes by, we grow both qualitatively and quantitatively; expanding our capacity. We continue to add various elements and new points of view to our personality, until we are like a bunch of grapes. I think this is the life of people from birth to death.
Future dreams and plans?
I am participating in exhibitions in Europe from this spring to autumn. The exhibitions will be in Sweden, Denmark and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Holland. For the future, I dream of living in beautiful nature surrounded by many cats, spending all day knitting in a rocking chair beside a fireplace. However, before I reach that point, I must create an artwork that will remain unique for generations. This might take an immeasurable period of time.
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