Ishiuchi Miyako, Fergus McCaffrey, photography, art exhibition, NYC, Japan, Hiroshima, Yokosuka, WWII, US occupation

Ishiuchi Miyako Exhibition at Fergus McCaffrey

Ishiuchi Miyako

Thursday, September 5 through Saturday, October 19
Opening Reception: Thursday, September 5 from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.

Fergus McCaffrey – 514 W. 26th Street (between 10th and 11th Avenues)

Admission: Free

Fergus McCaffrey, an art gallery internationally recognized for its promotion of postwar Japanese and seminal western artists, announces its representation of Japanese photographer Ishiuchi Miyako with an exhibition.

The exhibition encompasses more than 70 photographs from five series made over four decades, including many early and never-before-seen works. The exhibition will occupy both floors of Fergus McCaffrey’s 26th Street location. The gallery’s architecture and color scheme have been carefully modified and updated by Ishiuchi. This presentation is the artist’s largest gallery exhibition to date and the first since her celebrated retrospective at The J Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, in 2015.

About Ishiuchi Miyako

Ishiuchi Miyako was born in 1947 in Kiryū, Gunma Prefecture. In 1953, Ishiuchi’s family moved to Yokosuka, a seaport that had been occupied by a United States naval base since August 1945. It was in Yokosuka that she encountered the US servicemen’s oblivion of Japanese culture and assumed ownership of the land and people. She left home to attend Tama Art University in Tokyo in 1966 where she studied weaving and became involved in the student protests of the late 1960s.

Forty Years of Photography

Ishiuchi started taking photographs in the mid-1970s while living in Tokyo, shooting with a 35mm Nikon camera and a 28mm lens, which have remained a constant to this day.

Throughout her career, Ishiuchi returned to her childhood home to produce three series of photographs: Yokosuka Story, From Yokosuka: Third Position, and Tokyo Bay City. Shooting in black-and-white, her anxiety and swift pace of maneuvering through the landscape are palpable in urban landscapes and poorly lit stairwells that suggest escape routes or trapping places, in which she photographs. From Yokosuka: Third Position documents the decaying skin of old buildings, particularly the doorways and crumbling paper signage outside vacant bathhouses and brothels. In 1983, the artist was assigned by Camera Mainichi magazine to work on Tokyo Bay City, a commission that documented industrial landmarks alongside Tokyo Bay. Ishiuchi’s own inescapable unease is embedded in each image, reflecting from the artist’s perspective several decades of continuous occupation. Yokosuka Story earned Ishiuchi the coveted Kimura Ihei Award in 1979.

Since the beginning of her career, Ishiuchi has made all of her own black and white prints, resulting in a distinct grainy and high contrast aesthetic that has become her signature. She developed her negative films to enhance the physical presence of photographic texture and establish a highly diverse tonal range. While printing at her studio, she worked with extremely large rolls of photographic paper and taught herself to dodge-and-burn images to enhance the physical presence of the grain and rich contrast in the images further; her process and the chemical make-up of the paper often cause the images to refract light like mid-19th century daguerreotypes. The idiosyncrasies of her process and hand work in printing make each of her black-and-white photographs unique.

Ishiuchi Miyako, Fergus McCaffrey, photography, art exhibition, NYC, Japan, Hiroshima, Yokosuka, WWII, US occupation
Ishiuchi Miyako, From Yokosuka, 1981. ©Ishiuchi Miyako

The artist’s compassionate and empathetic working methods made her singularly apt to be invited to record and articulate the personal effects, mementos, and contributions of Hiroshima bomb victim families. In 2007, she was commissioned to document articles of her choice donated to the Hiroshima Peace Museum, among which she selected some hand-stitched garments that had been worn by residents of Hiroshima when the atomic bomb detonated on August 6, 1945. This gave the victims a unique voice, finding beauty and humanity through their worn relics. ひろしま / hiroshima (2007–present) summons memories and emotions and distinguishes them from the political event, allowing personal effects to take precedence over difficult debates on victimhood and violation. This annual, ongoing project makes up a significant portion of the exhibition.

Ishiuchi’s strength is her self-taught affinity for exposing a universal vulnerability that speaks to our mortality, giving voice to unspoken history and oppressed emotion, and granting nobility and status to her subjects.

In 2014, she became the third Japanese artists to receive the Hasselblad Award in Photography. Ishiuchi has had more than twenty solo museum exhibitions, most recently at the J Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, and the Yokohama Museum of Art, Japan. She is the subject of documentaries by filmmaker Linda Hoaglund including ANPO: Art x War (2010) and Things Left Behind (2013). Currently, her work is in the public collections of The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; SFMoMA, San Francisco; Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Texas; the International Center for Photography, New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum, Japan; and the Tate Modern, London.

For more information, please visit Fergus McCaffrey’s website.

Featured photo: Ishiuchi Miyako, ひろしま/hiroshima #82. ©Ishiuchi Miyako.