Long ago, girls who went missing were thought to have been “spirited away”, in the belief that those who suddenly vanish go on to the “world of the gods”. Today's lists of missing girls record their age, appearance, clothing, and the date and time of their disappearance.
As I scroll through the descriptions, I feel an ineffable sense of fear for the circumstances of these girls who have gone on to a chimeric world. At the same time, another thought springs to mind. Perhaps the real girls, at this moment, are alive and well in some unknown location. The girls on the lists, however, departed from the world's timeline the moment they disappeared. They will remain girls in perpetuity, never aging.
My body and spirit, which, moment by moment, are growing ever more distant from girlhood, had a longing and a strong consciousness of “being a girl”. I also sensed a particular “sanctity” in these girls. That's why I decided to make a work in which I dress up as missing girls.
I wonder how these “girls in perpetuity” would feel about my work: portraits of girls who have gone to a world beyond our grasp, whose colors, like pressed flowers, will never fade.
Entries form: Book (270 x 360 mm) with 21 digital archival pigment prints on art canvas
These are not run-of-the-mill self portraits. These are works of art in which the artist herself has faithfully re-imagined girls who once existed but have gone missing based on the girls’ remaining data (hairstyles, clothing, age, location), and has photographed herself in the stead of the disappeared girls. These portraits are loaded with connotations. In contrast to the missing girls who exist in a timeless, ageless perpetuity, the artist’s own physical appearance changes moment by moment as she ages. The artist underscores this unbridgeable gap by dressing up as the disappeared girls and, in turn, deftly expresses the fleetingness and precariousness that grip Japan’s young generation today.
In the historical context of photography, Cindy Sherman was the pioneer of this form, but the artist has thoroughly assimilated the form into a Japanese framework and produced works that are wholly original to her. The design of the book, the binding method, and the feel of the paper all relay the extremely meticulous nature of this work.
Born in Osaka in 1986, Ayano Sudo graduated from the Graduate School of Arts, Kyoto City University of Arts in 2011. During her time as a student, she studied at the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris, on an exchange program. She won the New Cosmos of Photography's Grand Prize in 2014 from Canon. Some of her major works include Metamorphose, a collection of photos of herself and a friend masquerading in ideal, gender-fluid forms, and Gespenster, a collection of self-portraits with Sudo dressed up as actual missing young women. Her work has appeared in exhibitions and art fairs in many countries, including New Planet Photo City: William Klein and Photographers Living in the 22nd Century (21_21 design sight, Tokyo, 2018) and I Know Something about Love, Asian Contemporary Photography (Tokyo Photographic Art Museum, Tokyo, 2018).
Ayano Sudo founded The Peppermint Magazine in 2020.