Born in America but reared in Japan until age fifteen, James Nakagawa brings a multicultural perspective to his work, frequently exploring ideas of family, identity, and place. His marriage to a woman from Okinawa, Japan, led to his Banta [Cliffs] series. The imagery portrays the “suicide cliffs” where a large number of Okinawans (including many civilians) took their own lives immediately prior to or during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. Nakagawa envisions these large, digitally constructed photographs as “an exploration of the historically and politically loaded landscapes that these sites represent.” The scars on the rocks bear witness both to the passage of time (erosion) and to war (artillery barrage). The print’s narrow, vertical format, flattened perspective, and scroll-like mounting suggest traditional Japanese landscape painting, while the modern materials, high-resolution color, and abstraction align it with a contemporary Western aesthetic.
Osamu James Nakagawa
American, born 1962
Okinawa 009 from Banta
Archival pigment print on paper mounted on aluminum board
Image/sheet: 59 3/4 x 20 in. (151.8 x 50.8 cm); mount: 66 ½ x 20 in. (168.9 x 50.8 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Museum purchase with funds from John Fiederlein, M. D. 1991, in honor of Kathleen J. (Zaviske) Fiederlein, BS 1980, Ph. D. 1992, 2010.60
Large image not available.