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From Yokosuka.
Photographs and text by Miyako Ishiuchi.
Super Labo, Kamakura, Japan, 2016. In English and Japanese. 42 pp., 25 duotone illustrations, 8½x11".

Publisher's Description

Edition of 1000 copies.

“I spent my whole adolescence, from when I was 6 to 19 years old, in Yokosuka, where both my body and mind grew up. However, I don’t think of Yokosuka as my hometown and I have few sweet and joyous memories there. It was natural because Yokosuka, a town of the American military base, was not comfortable to me as a young girl who had newly moved at the time of entering elementary school, to this new place where my father had been working away from our home in the countryside. Good or bad, the cultural shock I suffered was immense.

I started my career as a photographer by photographing Yokosuka. The vivid contrast of light and shadow inherent in the town somehow created photogenic landscapes as the history of the town seemed to be making invisible scars everyday. YOKOSUKA STORY, an autobiographical series with which I made my debut, is thus a photographic story of myself nurtured by the town's atmosphere as such.

From YOKOSUKA is the finale of my Yokosuka series in which I extensively photographed around Dobuita Street and EM Club, which I had never shot in the previous series. Looking back, I remember that I first pushed myself to photograph these places since young girls were prohibited to go there by their parents and I just ran back home without taking a photograph at all at first.

Back in the 1980s, Dobuita Street was not as busy as it had once been, and cabarets for American soldiers were mostly closed. In order to present an exhibition of my work, I rented one of the closed cabarets with an area of 330 sq. meters for six months and repainted its interior walls in red with the help of local artists and performers. I closed the cabaret house tightly to set up a temporary dark room only for the night, brought my enlarger in there, made a boat-shaped wooden vat by myself, cut the roll of printing paper, and enlarged the images of YOKOSUKA STORY and newly-shot From YOKOSUKA. The exhibition consisted of 200 photographs including two 180 x 120 cm prints and ten 120 x 80 cm prints.

The name of this cabaret was "2nd New YOKOSUKA." It had two stages, a horseshoe-shaped table and seats for approximately 50 people, a mirror ball hanging from the ceiling, and an exterior neon sign that still worked. Turning on the large neon sign with hundreds of light bulbs forming the name "2nd New YOKOSUKA" became my routine every evening during the exhibition.

While it was outside the U.S. military base, Dobuita Street was a "Little America." With A-sign ("Approved for US Forces") bars and cabarets all trading in dollars lining both sides, the street was a glorious red-light district that prospered as wars continued. In this street, I took, developed, printed and exhibited photographs. Through my From YOKOSUKA series, I could "print out" various memories and thoughts from the past.

Although it no longer exists, the cabaret "2nd New YOKOSUKA" remains in my photographs. The exhibition From YOKOSUKA resulted from my confrontation with Yokosuka, the object of my disgust and hatred. I have nothing to regret for Yokosuka any more. Yokosuka as a proper noun has gone away from me now. My starting point finished its role and became past history. I will probably never visit Yokosuka again in reality. Something has ended. Good-bye, Yokosuka, and thank you, Yokosuka.”


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