The hyperreal quality of Nakagawa’s photographs of the towering cliffs of Okinawa stems from the artist’s use of digital technology—he stitched together multiple exposures to create images in which every plane is in razor-sharp focus—as well as from the pictures’ tight cropping and dizzying perspectives. The artist, who was born in New York and raised in Tokyo, was drawn to the cliffs (known as banta in Okinawan) because of their severe beauty and their emotionally complex history. When American forces invaded Okinawa in spring 1945, thousands of Okinawans threw themselves off the steep cliffs. The circumstances surrounding the mass suicides remain controversial: according to survivors’ accounts, Japanese military officers ordered civilians to commit suicide to avoid the shame of capture and to save dwindling food supplies for the troops.
Inscription: Inscribed in black ink on mount, verso C: "Okinawa #009 // from the series, Banta // [signature] 2008 // 1/7"
The artist; [Sepia International Inc., New York]
Sepia International Inc. "Banta: Osamu James Nakagawa".
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "After Photoshop," September 25, 2012–May 27, 2013.