Okinawa 12, 2011


AUG 20 – SEP 18 2011

For years Osamu James Nakagawa carried with him a vivid memory of the first time he stood atop the precipitous cliffs in Okinawa, named ‘banta’, that fall hundreds of feet to the ocean below: his memory of the beauty of the endless blue expanse of sea and sky intensified by the fearsome height and history that met his downward gaze.

Five years later his memory drove him to revisit and descend those very cliffs. Standing at its feet for the first time, he felt in the cliff’s full visceral weight: something so powerful that he was initially unable to take even a single photograph. The shadows seeping from the cliff's surface, the white craters riddling the cliff's coral limestone and the charred black caves, were stark reminders of all that these cliffs had witnessed.

Returning to his studio after six months of researching and exploring the South Pacific Theater with thousands of files of the cliffs to piece together, he re-shaped and re-experienced the original digital images. For him, the cliffs became a metaphor for Okinawa’s history as well as digitally-manipulated, hyper-real vision of his experience standing between fear and beauty on Okinawa’s banta.

Osamu James Nakagawa was born in New York City, raised in Tokyo, Japan and returned to Houston, Texas at the age of 15. Nakagawa has exhibited broadly nationally and internationally in solo and group exhibitions and the recipient of numerous photographic awards including; the 2009 Guggenheim Fellowship, the 2010 Higashikawa New Photographer of the Year, and 2015 Sagamiharais. His work is held in many Collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art; George Eastman Museum; Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Sakima Art Museum, Okinawa; The Museum of Contemporary Photography Chicago, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Indianapolis Museum of Arts, Grand Rapid Museum of Art and others.

Osamu James Nakagawa is currently Ruth N. Halls Distinguished Professor, Photography; Director, Center for Integrative Photographic Studies, Indiana University Bloomington.

Image: Osamu James Nakagawa Okinawa 12, 2011 pigment Inkjet print mounted on brushed Aluminum Di Bond board H152.4 x W50.8 cm Courtesy the artist