Born 1953 Ogimi, Okinawa, Japan
Lives and works in
Tomigusuku, Okinawa, Japan
Mao Ishikawa has developed an extensive body of work, oriented toward figures on the margins of society and challenging accepted power structures. Born and raised in Okinawa, she studied photography in Tokyo before returning to her home to photograph the island and its people in 1975. Eager to address Okinawa’s complex racial and sexual politics in the aftermath of its return to Japanese sovereignty in 1972, Ishikawa began photographing the African American servicemen who frequented the bar in which she worked, and the Okinawan women who challenged social taboos by dating them. Some of these prints were only recently rediscovered and published by her daughter. In 2013, Ishikawa began a new series that she considers her life work, a narrative of Okinawan history from its time as an independent kingdom to its current struggles in shouldering the burden of Japan’s US military bases.