From July 12 to August 4, 2018, MIYAKO YOSHINAGA is pleased to present a summer group show entitled How Many Miles to Babylon? An opening reception will be held on Thursday, July 12, 6-8PM.
Although far from perfect, humans possess the immense ability to adapt physically and psychologically when confronted with injury, illness, dysfunction, and trauma. This exhibition features eight photographers who ponder such adverse fate and find inspiration in the fundamental desire for recovery and survival that is often accompanied by irreversible wounds - both visible and invisible.
How many miles to Babylon?
Three score miles and ten.
Can I get there by candle-light?
Yes, and back again.
If your heels are nimble and your toes are light,
You may get there by candle-light.
Taking its title from an old English nursery rhyme, the exhibition alludes to the arduous journey of daily survival in which pain and fear are often not immediately visible but neither secretive or denied. The participating artists are Emi Anrakuji, Rose Farrell & George Parkin, Hitoshi Fugo, Graciela Iturbide, Mari Katayama, Mayumi Lake, Natasha Phillips and Lisa Ross.
In her candid portraits of friends living with HIV - Caleb and Chris, Natasha Phillips dissolves the stigma associated with the disease into calm, tender moments. She captures Caleb playing dress up with costumes he made, and Chris, a standup comedian in NY, lovingly posing with his mother at an HIV awareness event. Graciela Iturbide’s Casa de Frida Kahlo explores Frida Kahlo’s home and personal objects in Mexico. The image of white bedsheets embroidered with the initials “F.K.” against the blue sky conveys the surrealist painter’s vibrant lifestyle despite the various health tragedies she experienced.
Kahlo’s plight echoes that of Mari Katayama, whose legs were amputated at the age of nine. Today she produces provocative self-portraits and enigmatic sculptures. In You're mine #002 she depicts herself posed, doll-like, surrounded by feminine objects against a white backdrop, all the while casting a fiercely raw human gaze. Another artist who photographs her own body is Emi Anrakuji, whose HMMT? series is deeply informed by her recovery from a decade-long cerebral illness. The image of her wearing a bandage-like white mask with a hole through which she breathes may imply a restless feeling that vacillates between the desires to retreat and be liberated from protection.
No other contemporary artists explore the fascinating history of medical practice more methodologically than Rose Farrell & George Parkin. In the series A Thousand Golden Remedies they decode the mystique associated with traditional Chinese medicine through carefully arranged body parts (of their own) and herbs found on the streets of Beijing. Farrell, who was a professional nurse, and Parkin both tragically died of cancer in their early 60s.
Hitoshi Fugo’s black-and-white photograph On the Circle 40 captures his daughter, who suffers from Poliomyelitis, lying on an asphalt ground. Her stiff and starkly white limbs juxtapose with scattered pieces of wood on the same asphalt ground in On the Circle 09, exposing the structural metaphor between the two.
Like Fugo, Mayumi Lake explores a mundane place and objects for her visionary work It’s Alright, in which white parasols are lined up in a lush field brightly lit by a dramatic, cloud-filled sky. The image conveys a sense of hope within the devastation of life after the 2011 earthquake and nuclear meltdown in Japan. In her series After Night, Lisa Ross photographs beds abandoned in the middle of cotton fields in Uyghur, rural China. The beds are used by villagers to sleep in during the hot, grueling harvesting season. In Green Dress, Green Bed, a young girl stands on top of a bed holding her head down into her palms, crying. The scene, set against a harsh, vast natural landscape echoes the universal human need for rest, healing, and recovering, regardless of where and how we live.
Emi ANRAKUJI *(b. 1963) lives in Tokyo, Japan. She is a photography artist whose intimate self-portraits are defined by Eros (life) and Thanatos (death) and a catalyst for fears and desires. Her work has been exhibited extensively across the U.S., Japan, Korea, the U. K., Spain, and France. A Higashikawa New Photography Prize winner, Anrakuji participated in the Daegu Photo Biennale in South Korea and PHotoEspaña in Spain.
Rose FARREL (1949-2015) and George PARKIN (1949-2012) were the leading contemporary photography artists in Australia. Their collaboration explored the history of medicine through the application of complex theatrical scenery using large format photography. They internationally participated in many museum/gallery programs in locations including Australia, Europe, China, the US, and Canada.
Hitoshi FUGO * (b. 1947) is based in Tokyo and has exhibited in Japan, China, France, Germany, Austria, and the US. His work negotiates existing orders and relationships between his subjects and locations both physically and psychologically. His well-known series “Flying Frying Pan” is represented in the collections of Los Angels County Museum of Art, Henry Art Gallery, and Museum of Photographic Art.
Graciela ITURBIDE (b. 1942) is a Mexican photographer widely recognized for her photographic depictions of Mexican culture in which the ancient traditions of the country meet contemporary urban lifestyles. In 2005, Iturbide was asked to photograph Frida Kahlo’s private rooms that had never been opened to the public since Frida’s death in 1954. The photographs taken during this project has created the Casa de Frida Kahlo series.
Mari KATAYAMA (b. 1987) is an up-and-coming artist in Japan. Born with tibial hemimelia, she chose to have her legs amputated at the age of nine. She creates self-portraits elaborately staged in her own room filled with her hand-sewed sculpture and other decorative objects. Katayama’s work in Roppongi Crossing 2016, a popular survey show of Japanese contemporary art at Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum, caused a sensation. She also sings, models, acts, as well as writes and lectures.
Mayumi LAKE *(b. 1964) is a Chicago-based artist. Her photography and video work delve into childhood and pubescent dreams, phobias and desires. She employs herself and others as her models, and uses dolls, toys, weapons, vintage clothes, and altered landscape as her props. Lake’s work has been exhibited at national and international venues including MIT List Visual Arts Center (Cambridge), Institute of Contemporary Art (London), Fotografie Forum International (Frankfurt), Art In General (New York), and Asia Society (New York).
Natasha PHILLIPS is a documentary and fine art photographer originally from Sydney, Australia. Her work is inspired by the transience and fragility of the human condition. She draws inspiration through the experience of travel and new environments and was drawn to documentary photography as a way of storytelling through personal vision. Since 2009 Philips has been based in New York and Sydney where she works commercially as a photographer, photo editor and writer.
Lisa ROSS (b. 1964) is a photographer, video artist and educator in New York. She investigates physical manifestations of faith with journeys to the Sahara, the Sinai and the Taklamakan Desert. Her work has been exhibited at numerous U.S. and European galleries and institutions including University of California at Berkeley (Berkeley), Rubin Museum of Art (New York), and Fotografiska Museum (Stockholm).