Session 09, The 2017 Fotobookfestival Kassel, Les Prix Du Livre 2017 Historical Book Award shortlisted, Best book of the year by Libération, best book of the year nominated by Jim Goldberg at Photoeye
Red Flower, The Women of Okinawa
Mao Ishikawa

Mao Ishikawa

Red Flower, The Women of Okinawa

Session 09

Edition of 600


Photography: Mao Ishikawa

Text: Mao Ishikawa

English Translation: Jun Sato

Design: Studio Lin, NYC

Printing: Die Keure, Brugge, BE

Color Proofing: Colour & Books, Apeldoorn, NL


ISBN: 978-0-692-81744-5

112 pages

Silkscreen soft cover covers and silkscreen text pages

closed 229 x 330 mm (9.02 x 12.99 inches), open 458 x 330 mm (18.03 x 12.99 inches), 3 lbs




Session Press presents Red Flower, The Women of Okinawa, the first United States monograph by Okinawan photographer Mao Ishikawa. Red Flower consists of 80 b/w 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Okinawa, primarily from Ishikawa’s first book Hot Days in Camp Hansen by  A-man Shuppan in 1982, but it also includes unpublished work from the same period.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.

Her attendance of Shomei Tomatsu’s class at WORKSHOP photography school in spring 1974 seems to have had a strong influence on her style; their close association as friends and teacher/student continued till his death in 2012. Martin Parr identifies her work as ‘post-Provoke’ in The Photobook: A History Volume III (page 90), observing the strength of her photography is charged by its directness and rawness, in contrast to the stylized symbolism preferred by the previous generation of Provoke photographers. Most importantly, it is crucial to note that her work is often delivered from the result of her pure pursuit of her subject matter. Especially for this particular project, Ishikawa’s engagement to the subject was enormous; she worked as a server at the bars along with the other girls and had relationships with boys she met there for two years. Thus, her personal involvement enables her to capture the actual events and scene without theorizing or romanticizing. In Red Flower, Ishikawa reveals her very honest personal documentary in all sincerity, while still maintaining enough detachment from the subject to be able to perfectly capture the scenes with her sharp eyes.


Okinawa has been one of the most popular subjects in the history of Japanese photography, having attracted many renowned Japanese photography masters such as Tomatsu Shomei, 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.


Dashwood Books will host Ishikawa’s signing event on Tuesday, March 28 from 6 to 8 pm.




「赤花 アカバナー、沖縄の女」








ニューヨークの出版社セッション・プレスは、この度、沖縄出身の写真家石川真生の写真集「赤花 アカバナー、沖縄の女」 を発刊し、 沖縄県のコザ、金武で1975年から77年の間に撮影した、 処女作「熱き日々 in キャンプハンセン」(1982年あーまん出版)からの作品を中心に、未発表の作品を含めたモノクロ写真80点を紹介します。沖縄の基地の街のバーで働く女性たちの姿を赤裸々に撮った本作は、今よりも日本と沖縄、米国の政治的背景が複雑であった時代に、自分の心の赴くままに純粋に青春を謳歌し、自由を愛する女性へ、石川が熱き想いを込めて制作しました。本作の編集は、石川が書き下ろしたエッセイに合わせ5つの章で構成されています。ボーイフレンドについて噂をしあう女たち、バーに働きにでる姿、家でボーイフレンドと寛ぐ様子、海岸での楽しい午後、そして、未来の沖縄を支える子供たちのポートレイトです。70年代中期から後期に撮影された「赤花 アカバナー、沖縄の女」 は、石川の写真家への道を導くこととなった初期作品として重要な写真集です。



1974年の春の短い間でしたが、 東京の写真学校で東松照明から、写真の基礎について受講したことは、のちの石川の作品のスタイルを築くきっかけとなりました。石川の作品は、 マーティン・パーやその他の海外の批評家が評価するように、一世代前の象徴的で観念的な表現のプロボーク写真とは異なり、対象をまっすぐに捉えたポートレイトであり、力強く生々しい感性に満ち溢れています。また、最も重要点は、石川の写真は自身が心から興味を持ったことに対し、実際に肌で感じたことのみを表現した点にあります。特に本作では、バーに集まるアメリカ兵の姿を撮影したいと望んだ石川が、しだいにバーで働く女たちに興味をもち、ともに働き、また友人として親交を深めながら2年間の歳月をかけて撮影することで完成しました。論理的に物事を解釈し、また陳腐な感傷に陥ることなく、写真家石川真生の冷静な視線を通し、女たちの姿は、美しく、力強く、生き生きと表現されています。



これまで、沖縄というテーマは日本の著名な写真家、(東松照明、森山大道、荒木経惟、北島敬三)の間でも関心の高い主題として人気を集めてきました。 沖縄に生まれ育った沖縄出身の女性の作家として、石川は生涯をかけて沖縄を精力的に撮り続ける作家として唯一無二の存在と言えるでしょう。