From a young age, I was obsessed with the differences between genders and also possessed a strong interest in the ambiguous. What I ought to call the cause was my father’s possession of a photo book by Diane Arbus. It was full of human figures that appeared to be half man and half woman. It was impossible to identify their gender; they were outsiders. Not at the age where I could conclude whether they were normal or abnormal, I looked through the photo book with a deep curiosity but I remember thinking to myself that there were people in the world like this as a matter of fact.

At that time, I strongly believed that I was a young boy. Until junior high school, my appearance was that of one; my hair was always short and I was always wearing shorts. But when I entered junior high school, I experienced love at first sight with boy, two years my senior. The desire to be liked by him, for him to say that I was cute, blossomed in my heart. So I let my hair grow and I wore one-piece dresses that were luxuriously decorated in lace; Lolita Fashion was in vogue at the time. That was when the masquerade started. With a soul of a young boy, I started to dress myself up as a woman. I felt out of place in that female body that was mine. It almost seemed like it didn’t belong to me; it felt like some sort of outer layer. Now, I have come to feel that it is convenient for doing my hair, putting on makeup, or wearing cute clothing but I believe there is a significance in the fact that the young boy in me wears cute clothing.

When I was a college student, I encountered a book that made a deep impression on me. It was the photographer, Bettina Rheims’ Modern Lovers. In it there were girls with the faces of young boys but with preternaturally womanly bodies. There was a portrait of a 17-year-old Kate Moss who looked like a cross dressing young boy and many portraits. The more I looked at the faces of the subjects of these photographs, the more confused I became, enough to put me in a stupor. It was them; they were the people that I wanted to meet. That became my conviction. It was a similar feeling that I had when I looked at Diane Arbus’ photo book. A confusion that I could not put into words boiled up inside of me. To me, they were fascinating, almost like aliens, angels, or fairies. They reflected in my eye with a sparkling stardust. So, I started to take pictures of my friends who sparkled in the same way. One boy glowed with his long hair and light makeup, another girl seriously thought she wanted to become a doll. I wanted to capture the power they seemed to have that defied earth’s gravity. So, I created photographs in a Shojo Manga style that I used to adore with radiantly expressive whites and rainbow-like iridescence.

This series was created with these feelings that can be traced from the early stages of my art career and still continues.

Ayano Sudo