Sweet Home Yokosuka.
Photographs by Ishiuchi Miyako.
PPP Editions, 2010.
Black & white illustrations,
Roth gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of vintage black-and-white photographs by the Japanese artist Ishiuchi Miyako. The images on view were selected from Ishiuchi’s three earliest series published as: Apartment (1978), Yokosuka Story (1979) and Endless Nights (1981). In conjunction with the exhibition PPP Editions has published Sweet Home Yokosuka 1976-1980 printing over 200 tri-tone photographs with a bilingual essay by the contemporary Japanese writer and filmmaker Nishikawa Miwa.
Sweet Home Yokosuka revisits Ishiuchi’s three early works that in retrospect may be considered as a trilogy. Together the photographs manifest a personal document primarily of her hometown Yokosuka, a place of compromised identity, accommodating two large American Naval bases since the late 1940s.
Apartment documents both exteriors and interiors of new and old dwellings, generally focusing on the buildings themselves not their inhabitants. They are in some respects anthropomorphic portraits of the architecture: the repairs on the walls are like veins and the cracking and peeling of old paint are like the scars on aging skin. Yokosuka Story describes Ishiuchi’s wanderings in her native city, confronting locations that although changed, still hold the memories of her childhood. And Endless Nights documents the popular “love hotels,” as abandoned; the physical structure of the places themselves and their furnishings, stairways, corridors and empty beds echo the intimate stories that unfolded there.
What is most compelling about this work is not necessarily what Ishiuchi photographed or the seductive rendition of reality into black and white, but rather how she conceptualized the act of picture-taking. Ishiuchi was less interested in finding her unique vision, more comfortable “using” the medium as a means to confronting herself and her past. This methodology was reinforced by the ideas discussed among her peers from the Provoke movement, Moriyama, Takanashi and Taki Koji, who questioned whether the photographic medium was capable of capturing any version of empirical truth.