“Red Flower, The Women of Okinawa”, is the first United States monograph by Okinawan photographer Mao Ishikawa. “Red Flower” consists of 80 black & white photographs that date from 1975 to 1977 in Koza and Kin, Okinawa, primarily from Ishikawa’s first book “Hot Days in Camp Hansen” by A-man Shuppan in 1982, but it also includes unpublished work from the same period. “Red Flower” exhibits Ishikawa’s celebration of the courageous and honest lives of women she met and befriended while working at military bars at a time when social and political tensions between the US and Japan were on high alert. It consists of five chapters of pictures, followed by her essay dedicated to the publication: girls gossiping about boys, working at bar, meeting their boyfriends at home, enjoying themselves at the beach, and their children for the future of Okinawa. “Red Flower” is the pivotal work for Ishikawa, since it marks the starting point of her subsequent long career as a photographer. Okinawa has been one of the most popular subjects in the history of Japanese photography, having attracted many renowned Japanese photography masters such as Shomei Tomatsu, Daido Moriyama, Nobuyoshi Araki, and Keizo Kitajima. Born and raised in Okinawa, Ishikawa is, however, the only female photographer for still vigorously making work of Okinawa (and living in Okinawa) in spite of whatever taboo or challenges she came across along the way. Previously Ishikawa made two publications on the same subject. Her first book, “Camp Hansen” is not, in fact, her monograph since another photographer, Toyomitsu Higa took the photos in the second half of the book. Also, it was regretfully banned due to claims from two girls in the book shortly after it was released, so it is extremely rare and expensive. The other volume of Ishikawa’s Okinawa work was published on the occasion of her exhibition at Yokohama Civic Art Gallery Azamino in 2013. Since it mainly functions as reference to her general work, and it was laid out with large white framing surrounding smaller format photos, it loses the boldness, honesty and urgency which are characteristic of her work. “Red Flower” features full-bleed images in a large format with intense black and white printing, and successfully makes the original lively spirit and tension of Ishikawa’s legendary “Camp Hansen” work available again for wider public appreciation.
― statement from the distributor