From the banta cliffs of Okinawa, mabui – the spirits of the land, of the deceased – led me into the gama caves below.
These caves are the sacred home of Okinawa’s spirits – its ancestors, its history,
I enter hesitantly - through the eeriness of the cave’s dark, heavy air, through the remnants of war scattered on the ground.
Enveloped total darkness, what could I possibly see? Yet inside the earth’s womb, deep in this darkness, the conversation continues.
With just a flashlight in hand, I search for anything I might find, unable to entirely illuminate my surroundings.
The shutter wide open, I enter into the image, my flashlight in hand, floating and conversing with mabui as the cave’s interior slowly seeps into the camera.
What am I hearing? What can I express for them? How will these images of
darkness speak to others?
These questions continue to resonate in my mind as I return from the blackness
of the caves to my studio to draw out the spirits of this place.
—Osamu James Nakagawa
About Osamu James Nakagawa
Osamu James Nakagawa explores his biculturalism through photographs that grapple with cultural histories and alienation. Nakagawa was born in the United States but moved to Japan as a child, and to Texas as a teenager. “I am a stranger in all the places my family could call ‘home,’” the artist has said. “The duality and conflict of this experience is the motivation for my photographic exploration, and I am personally invested in finding points of connection and disconnection between actual and constructed memories on both cultural and familial levels.” Nakagawa has captured images as diverse as fields in the American Midwest, rainy urban street scenes, and socially charged sites in Japan. In his series of photos of the Okinawa islands, Nakagawa depicts sublime seaside scenery, saturating their colors in post-production. The images suggest the weight and distortion of his memories of and associations with Japan, but also address the site as a World War II battleground.
American, b. 1962