[April 10 2017]
Red Flower, The Women of Okinawa is the first monograph to be published in the United States by cult-favorite photographer Mao Ishikawa. The book is comprised of images — some of which have never before been published — from the late-’70s, during the US military occupation of Okinawa. After a brief time at school in Japan, Mao dropped out to return home and picked up a job at a GI bar in the black entertainment district of Koza. As Mao exclaims of the time: “What’s wrong with loving a black man! What’s wrong with working at a black bar! What’s wrong with celebrating our freedom! What’s wrong with enjoying sex! I liked these bar girls who lived open and free in narrow, cramped Okinawa. I had never cared much about what others thought of me but their ethos of ‘let’s live free, do what we want, and trust ourselves’ made me care even less.” Over the course of two years, she documented every aspect of her life with her girlfriends and their GI boyfriends as they led fearless lifestyles during a tumultuous era. The book, published by Session Press, is now available to purchase at Dashwood Books in New York City.
Text and Photo Paige Silveria