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The Agony of Okinawa: Mao Ishikawa’s “The Great Photographic Scroll of the Ryūkyū”

Third Thursday lecture - Sainsbury Institute

木曜日 20 4月, 2023
6:00pm BST - 7:00pm BST


Online lecture, via Zoom.
50 min lecture followed by Q&A.
Free and open to all, booking essential.
To check your time zone conversion if you are joining from outside the UK, click here.

A recording of this lecture is available on request. Please email sisjac@sainsbury-institute.org for more details.


Dr Ayelet Zohar (Tel Aviv University and Visiting Scholar at the Sainsbury Institute)

About the Talk

Mao Ishikawa (b. 1953) is one of Okinawa’s leading photographers, working in the scene since the 1970s. Her first photobook Hot Days in Camp Hansen became a hit, a compilation for which Ishikawa was called “Okinawa’s Nan Goldin,” for its direct and honest portrayal of Okinawa’s young women and their lovers, often GI soldiers of African American background. Later works included critical views of Okinawa’s position as Japan’s most impoverished prefecture, and the peripheral position of its citizens, as well as multiple projects that criticize Okinawa’s troubled situation of being “double colonized” by Japan’s government and the US military.

This presentation shall look into Ishikawa’s recent grand project – The Great Photographic Scroll of the Ryūkyū – a series of 10 large scale scrolls that portray different episodes taken from Okinawa’s history, from its days of independence as the Ryūkyū Kingdom, then, the Japanese occupation (1879 – ), the horrendous events of The Battle of Okinawa, leading to the US Military presence over the Island, from 1945 to this day.

About the Speaker

Ayelet Zohar is the President of Japan Art History Forum (JAHF), a Senior Lecturer at the Art History Department, Tel Aviv University and a Visiting Scholar at the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures. Zohar’s research focuses on Contemporary Art and Photography, from its introduction in Japan to current practices.

Image: Mao Ishikawa, detail from The Great Photographic Scroll of the Ryūkyū (2014 – ongoing) – An uminchu (fisherman) caught many fish. (Ryukyu Kingdom Era)

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The Third Thursday Lecture series is funded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation and Yakult UK.