How does one take photographs in the dark? And what then, emerges from the darkness? Osamu James Nakagawa's project GAMA, takes the viewer inside Okinawan caves where people sought refuge during World War II. Through the darkness, shapes and figures emerge, both mysterious and ominous. Indistinguishable forms morph between flesh and stone, and vines become veins.
Nakagawa, whose own cultural identity bridges Japan and America and who is married to an Okinawan, has been pulled back and forth between these two cultures, an experience that mirrors Okinawan history. Coming face to face with this place is akin to confronting his own personal history. We may see these works as a personal dialogue between the artist and Okinawa as he strives to give light and form to memories that have long been veiled in the darkness of the caves.
"Nakagawa's images introduce specific places and provoke the viewer's imagination as to what happened in their interiors, stained by nature, time, rituals, and history. I agree with him that these haunting and haunted places and their various pasts should not be jettisoned from Japanese histories or consciousness."?Anne Wilkes Tucker
Gama Caves project was supported by 2009 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship.