Mao Ishikawa is an Okinawan photographer and activist. Her photographs largely feature bar girls, performers, soldiers, and other fringe members within Okinawan and Japanese society. Ishikawa's earlier works are characterized by her approach to photography which involved the photographer's immersion in the environment of her images, whether by living with her subject or working in close proximity to them.
In her photographs of active soldiers and military bases both in and outside of Japan beginning from the 1990s, Ishikawa has more directly addressed political undercurrents, namely contempt for the U.S. military presence in Okinawa and distrust of the Japanese government. Her most recent series Great Ryukyu Photo Scroll (大琉球写真絵巻) (2014-) approaches the same themes through a narrative tone, using satire and pop culture references to reconstruct important moments in Okinawan history.


1982 - "Hot Days in Camp Hansen‼︎", Okinawa: Aman
1989 - "Philippines" self-published
1990 - "A Port Town Elegy" self-published
1991 - "Sachiko Nakada's Theatre Company" self-published
1995 - "Okinawa and the Japanese Self Defense Forces" Tokyo: Koubunken
1995 - "U.S. Forces in Okinawa" Tokyo: Koubunken
2002 - "Okinawa Soul" Ohta
2010 - "Fences, Okinawa" Tokyo: Miraisha
2010 - "Life in Philly" Tokyo: Zen Foto Gallery / Gallery OUT of PLACE
2011 - "Here’s What the Japanese Flag Means to Me" Tokyo: Miraisha
2012 - "Fences, Fuck You" self-published
2013 - "Hot Days in Okinawa" FOIL
2014 - "Morika’s Dreams" Tokyo: Miraisha
2015 - "A Port Town Elegy" Tokyo: Zen Foto Gallery
2017 - "Red Flower: The Women of Okinawa" New York: Session

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2004 - The Perpetual Moment – Visions from within Okinawa and Korea, MoMA PS1
2008 - Okinawa Prismed 1872–2008, The National Museum of Modern Art Tokyo
2011 - Harada Masamichi/Ishikawa Mao, Yokohama Museum of Art
2013 - All You Need is Love, Mori Art Museum
2015 - A Port Town Elegy, Zen Foto Gallery
2018 - The 9th Asia Pacific Triennal of Contemporary Art (APT9), Queensland Art Gallery
2020 - TOP Collection: Photography in the Ryukyu Islands, Tokyo Photographic Art Museum

Books from Mao ISHIKAWA