Exploring the interrelationship between photography and performance, the work of AYAKAMAY combines image-making with fantastically constructed but intimate live experiences. AYAKAMAY simultaneously appropriates traditional Japanese cultural aesthetics and creates a dialogue with contemporary American urbanity and femininity, through the whimsical lens of her personal experience as a Japanese-American woman. This hybrid cultural identity is reflected in AYAKAMAY's practice as fantasy and reality intersect. The staged, costumed worlds of studio photography and videography are combined with interactive performances engaging the unpredictability of encounters with strangers and exchanges of physical senses and emotional states.
A first grade art class, a small sculpture of a flaccid penis, concerned Japanese parents and a young girl punished for expressing herself through art. This would be the beginning of Ayaka May Komatsu’s creative journey.
Born in 1985 in Tennessee, Ayakamay’s family moved several times due to her father’s job, living in Nashville, Mission Viejo, Los Angeles. During this time, Ayakamay’s family also traveled back and forth to Japan where the family decided to settle down when she was ten. Having been raised in an American lifestyle, the shift to Japan was especially confusing and overwhelming.
Ayakamay struggled to acclimate herself to a radically different culture. As she was being forcibly shoved into a mold that did not fit, she sought solace in art. Eventually Ayakamay’s parents decided art was a negative distraction in her life and took away her art supplies. This was one of the darkest times in her life and the impetus for her to find new ways to express her creativity. Fortunately her parents did not find photography threatening, so she was allowed to use the family camera. This led to serious visual experimentation throughout high school where she honed her craft in photography and filmmaking.
At the age of nineteen, Ayakamay headed for New York City with the hopes of a career as an artist. Here she worked as a painter, musician, performer, photographer and filmmaker. Her current focus, performance art, combines all of her disciplines, reflecting her unique vision as an artist and woman raised in two very distinct and at times contradictory cultures.