ISHIKAWA, Mao [b. 1953]. Minatochō erejī [Port Town Elegy]. (Okinawa): (Self-published), (1990).

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ISHIKAWA, Mao [b. 1953]. Minatochō erejī [Port Town Elegy]. (Okinawa): (Self-published), (1990).

Book, page size: 210 × 297 mm / 8 1/4 × 11 11/16 in. pp.[54]. Black-and-white photographs and text by Ishikawa. Photo-illustrated wrappers, printed in black and white, rear cover in grey, adhesive-bound; minor wear, rubbing to covers. Signed in black ink on title-page. A very good copy.

First edition. In 1983 Ishikawa and her husband divorced, partly due to the controversial fallout of her first book Atsuki Hibi in Kyampu Hansen (1982). To support herself and her young daughter Ishikawa opened a bar close to the Aja-Shinko port in Naha, Okinawa where she had grown up. The fishermen and dockworkers who frequented her bar became the subject of this, her third book. In a later text for an exhibition of this work, she wrote:

‘It was in 1983 when I got divorced at the age of 30. Since I was not confident that I could live as a photographer with a daughter, I decided to run a bar to make some steady money. I opened a bar in the middle of a residential area near Aja-Shinko port in Naha, where cargo ships come and go.

Most of the guests were men, including port workers and fishermen. They talked in the Okinawan language, drank a lot, fought each other; my bar was always lively.
I fell in love with one of the guests who worked at the port, and we started living together in an apartment near the bar. Near there, I found a little old house where a man was living alone after his wife and kids had left. Some men always gathered in the house, drinking all day, sometimes fighting too – making a man’s world.
Nobody approached this house where scary-looking guys got together, but my boyfriend visited there every day. I also went with him, out of curiosity, to the house and started to shoot pictures of those men. Even when they started to fight and beat each other up, I just kept shooting silently.’

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