The first solo exhibition by multi-disciplinary artist, Ayakamay at PROTO Gallery, featuring new large-scale sculpture, installation, and ceramics, accompanied by performance.

SINGLE-ACTION features two large-scale inflatable sculptures accompanied by new work in glazed ceramics set in a field of hundreds of mylar balloons designed by the artist, and a performance which integrates the physical installation into one artistic gesture. The term single-action refers to a type of firearm trigger, typically used in shotguns and rifles, that requires an initial setup of the firing mechanism, such as the pumping of a shotgun’s fore-end before a bullet is discharged. For Ayakamay, this potential destructive force can be found in the heated rhetoric of global politics in the Pacific, the events leading up to, and following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, and the proliferation of guns throughout the United States including her home state of Tennessee.

Each of the objects in the exhibition is a play on a traditional stamped metal toy fish popular in Japan during the artist’s childhood; some are quite literal in their quotation, while others, especially the large inflatables are more military aircraft than fish. For the artist, this fish represents a false and infantile sense of innocence that exists in the Japanese concept of kawaii a cuteness that so very often rings hollow. The mylar balloons, offered as gifts to gallery visitors, in the exhibition are simultaneously a joyous mass of this traditional toy and a fish kill, the often mysterious die-offs of entire populations of fish. They are reminiscent of Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s Untitled (Placebo), but this time the endless supply of shiny cellophane wrappings are the untold environmental impacts of radioactive pollution released from the shores of Honshu island.

The two large inflatable sculptures are arranged in the space as the two largest islands of Japan, Hokkaido and Honshu, like two fish kissing in the waters of the Pacific. They are beautiful objects that seem to be built for speed through some imaginary medium beyond their physical nature in the gallery space, inflated to a level of maximum surface tension, prepared for action.

For the performance aspect of the exhibition, Ayakamay, dressed in a warning red dress with her face obscured by a red scarf, walks through the sea of mylar fish and drives a sharpened stainless steel pin into the larger sculpture, referencing the metaphoric puncture that occurred at Fukushima, after which the twenty-foot long sculpture slowly deflates until it has collapsed completely.

Ayakamay was born in Tennessee, and has lived in Los Angeles and New York, but spent half of her childhood in Tokyo, Fukushima, and Yokohama in Japan. The disruptive cultural shock of moving from the United States to Japan at the age of ten is the critical reference point within her art practice. Ayakamay has cultivated an artistic persona which both embodies this hybrid identity and usurps it, appearing again and again as an altered and often fluidly self-stereotyped character in her video and performance work. Appropriated traditional Japanese cultural aesthetics are set against overt sexuality and other aspects of the American idiom, creating a dialogue between the two very distinct and at times contradictory cultures. Recent solo exhibitions include Captive Train_rek at The Lodge Gallery NYC, Hotel Kamikaze, DAVID&SCHWEITZER Contemporary, Brooklyn, DISTORTION, Red Gallery, London, GENDERLESS  Leslie Lohman Museum, NYC, and Picture Perfect at Ideal Glass, NYC. Her work has also recently been exhibited in numerous fairs in the United States and Europe including Context in Miami and SCOPE in Basel and New York City as well as the Festival Internacional del Cine Pobre in Gibara, Cuba. Her peculiar character Mimikaki and her troupe of hot-dog wielding vixens the HOTDOG Muffins have been spotted around NYC and various cities in Europe.