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  • Provenance

    The Third Gallery Aya, Osaka
    Private Collection, Japan

  • Exhibited

    絶唱、横須賀ストーリー Yokosuka Story, Nikon Salon in Ginza, Tokyo, 26 April - 1 May, 1977, other prints
    From Yokosuka, 2nd New Yokosuka cabaret, Yokosuka, 29 April - 17 May 1981, other prints
    DuMont Foto 5: Die Japanische Photographie, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg, 1984, other prints
    Ishiuchi Miyako: Postwar Shadows, Getty, Los Angeles, 6 October 2015 - 21 February 2016, other prints

  • Literature

    Ishiuchi, 絶唱、横須賀ストーリー Yokosuka Story, Tokyo: Shashin Tsushinsha, 1979, pp. 10, 21, 24, 35, 41-42, 51, 56, 58, 83, variant crops
    Ishiuchi, Sweet Home Yokosuka 1976-1980, New York: PPP Editions, 2010, n.p., variant crops
    Ishiuchi Miyako: Postwar Shadows, Los Angeles: Getty, 2015, pl. 2, p. 34; pl. 11, p. 43, variant crops
    Ishiuchi Miyako: Grain & Image, Yokohama: Yokohama Museum of Art, 2017, pp. 228-229, variant crops

  • Catalogue Essay

    'They are such small photographs,
    but each one is evidence
    that I have lived my life.’

    Ishiuchi Miyako on this work

    ‘Yokosuka was like a deeply haunting feeling of brutality, and onto hundreds of pure white photographic paper, I spewed it out in deep blacks.’

    Ishiuchi Miyako in Yokosuka Story, 1979

    In the autumn of 1976, Ishiuchi Miyako, a 29-year-old self-taught photographer, journeyed to her hometown of Yokosuka to photograph the port city where she had lived from the age of 6 until 19. Her 13 years in Yokosuka – the site of the largest U.S. naval base overseas – were tainted by grim memories of World War II and tensions caused by a dominant U.S. presence. It was her lingering loathing of Yokosuka that led her to choose it as the subject of her first major project and photography was her tool of self-expression with which she purged her unwanted feelings and dark memories of her hometown. Her debut Yokosuka Story was born of this act of expelling her inner turmoil.

    ‘I am photographing the city of Yokosuka, but actually, I am not photographing the city of Yokosuka.’

    Ishiuchi Miyako

    In Yokosuka Story, Ishiuchi presents a fictional Yokosuka rendered in black and white. Dark, grainy and off-kilter, her photographs are quietly unsettling. Juxtapositions of close-up and faraway views, straight and oblique angles, derelict buildings and solitary figures reflect the tensions she felt growing up in the turbulent base town. On completing her project in March of 1977, Ishiuchi showed 100 Yokosuka photographs to Nobuyoshi Araki, whose introduction to Jun Miki, photographer and director of Nikon Salon, resulted in her maiden solo show 絶唱、横須賀ストーリー Yokosuka Story from 26 April to 1 May at Nikon Salon in Ginza, Tokyo.

    In 1978, Ishiuchi created the publishing company Shashin Tsūshinsha, financed with the three million yen her father had saved for her wedding, to self-publish her first two photobooks, which included Yokosuka Story. The following year, 1979, was historically significant for Ishiuchi who became the first woman to receive the Kimura Ihei Award, the most coveted photography award in Japan, and the only woman artist to be included in the group exhibition Japan: A Self-Portrait at the International Center of Photography in New York, which marked the first presentation of her work abroad. This was also the same year in which she created the present work as part of nearly 100 unique cabinet-card-sized prints of Yokosuka Story for a Nikon Salon exhibition in Paris that never took place. Thin black borders frame each small photograph, and together, the 22 images can be read as a narrative – Ishiuchi’s own Yokosuka Story – woven with memories, experiences and histories.

    ‘I loved the darkroom. I took photographs so that I can be in the darkroom.’

    Ishiuchi Miyako

    For Ishiuchi, the tactile process of creating a photograph, an object, in the darkroom was highly personal and more important than the act of taking an image with a camera. Influenced by her university education in weaving and textile dyeing, she focused on manipulating chemicals and exposure to create emotionally charged photographs. Her preferred language of grain, as seen in the photographs offered here, was achieved through long hours spent in the darkroom. Her manipulation of the photographic image in the camera and in the darkroom enabled her to tell a personal story that also alludes to broader themes of alienation and disaffection of urban life in post-war Japan, as well as beauty found in decay and in the shadows. Ishiuchi’s hometown of Yokosuka was the starting point of what would become a lifelong career in photography that began in 1975 and continues to this day.

    One of Japan’s leading artists, Ishiuchi represented Japan at the 2005 Venice Biennale and is a multiple award winner, including the 4th Kimura Ihei Award (1979), Japan’s Medal with Purple Ribbon (2013) and the Hasselblad Award (2014). Her work has been exhibited internationally since 1979 and recent museum retrospectives include Ishiuchi Miyako: Postwar Shadows at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (2015-16) and Ishiuchi Miyako: Grain and Image at the Yokohama Museum of Art (2017-18). Her work is held in many prominent institutions, including the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; Yokohama Museum of Art; Tokyo Photographic Art Museum; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and Tate Modern, London, which holds 40 unique cabinet-card-sized prints from Yokosuka Story.



絶唱 、横須賀ストーリー Yokosuka Story

22 unique gelatin silver prints, printed 1979.
Each sheet: 11.9 x 16.3 cm (4 5/8 x 6 3/8 in.)
Each frame: 22 x 26 cm (8 5/8 x 10 1/4 in.)

Each signed in rōmaji and dated in ink on the verso.

This work is unique. These 22 prints were part of nearly 100 unique cabinet-card-sized prints of Yokosuka Storymade by Ishiuchi in 1979 for a Nikon Salon exhibition in Paris that never materialised. Acquired by the present owner in 2010 – when these prints were first made available – they represent the largest holding of this work in private hands. London’s Tate Modern acquired 40 prints in 2013 and the others are held privately and by the artist. This is the first auction offering of early prints from Yokosuka Story.

Please note that the artist’s name appears in Japanese order with her surname before her forename.

£70,000 - 90,000 

Sold for £106,250

Contact Specialist
Genevieve Janvrin
Co-Head of Photographs, Europe
+33 1 53 71 77 87

Yuka Yamaji
Co-Head of Photographs, Europe
+44 20 7318 4098

ULTIMATE Evening & Photographs Day Sales

London Auction 18 May 2018