Aska Yamada: An artist’s journey

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Aska Yamada is a Japanese performance artist based on Jeju

Aska Yamada is a Japanese artist that is part of the Jeju-based performance art group Salgoce.

Despite being based on Jeju, Salgoce bring an international feeling to the island as they consist of members from Korea, France, and Japan.

They entertain locals and tourists alike with their vibrant performances both on the street and in their studio at Art Scenic in Jeju’s old town. The name of the group means naughty kid in French and it is a name that hints at the group’s cheeky yet thought-provoking artistic style.

From traveler to performance artist

Saka herself was a late addition to the Salgoce troupe. Growing up in Niigata, she originally left Japan in 2011 to travel through Australia. Following this, her travels brought her to Singapore, India, and Thailand before she eventual settled on Jeju.

While she originally sold handmade jewelry, while traveling she spent a lot of time with dancers and street artists and it was during this time that she thought that she could perhaps also become a performer.

After arriving in Jeju she met with the other artists in the Salgoce group. Her debut performance for the group came as a last minute substitute and she hasn’t looked back since!

What do her performances involve?

Starting as a fire performer, she and the other members of Salgoce spent their time putting on a variety of performances. One of the most eye catching was a daring and intensely visual fire performance where the members, including Aska, literally played with fire.

However, this isn’t all she does. She has moved onto more subtle forms of performance, a highlight of which includes a thought provoking piece titled Je Suis Nee Elle. (She is Born.)

This piece focuses on society’s ridiculous and often aggressive expectations of women throughout their life. From the adoration felt in childhood, to sexual objectification in adolescence, to the regulations in later life of what is ‘ladylike,’ Aska performed all the female roles in the unique performance herself.

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing though

In an unexpected turn for a street performer, Aska revealed that she actually suffers from stage fright.

She has dealt with it in many ways including simply going into a trance on stage. When in this state she said that it is almost like she is entering a different world so that the audience around simply didn’t exist.

However, recently she has tried to avoid doing this as she thinks that what is important isn’t to remove stage fright completely but simply to become comfortable with it. This allows her to express herself better and also connect with the audience.

What about the future?

Aska is planning to continue enhancing her technical skills in the future. By moving on to different types of performance she hopes that this will help her achieve a new and more advanced level of artistry for her performances.