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Osamu James Nakagawa

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Statement for Ma: Between the Past
Series consists of 17 images + DVD
2003–2005
Archival inkjet print on paper
Triptychs: 11" X 40", others: 30" X 40" and 30" X 60"

Ma: Between the Past

A day before my father was hospitalized for his cancer in Tokyo, he brought me a suitcase filled with family mementos. Looking back, I think it was important for him to hand down the visual history of our family to the next generation. Two months later, my daughter was born, then my father passed away...

The suitcase sat untouched in my studio for years. Finally I had the courage to open my father’s memory box and looked at the old photographs and films he had kept. The entire contents of his suitcase contained family mementos. Some of the images were familiar to me, however many other images were ones that I had never seen. I began to question my own past, not only my memory, but also the unfamiliar past that I had inherited. How can I make connections between the images that I had photographed and the images in my father’s memory box? Ma-between the past came out of this question. This series searches for a link to my past and its future passage to my daughter.

The digital images were composed with both of my grandfathers’ archives and my father’s 8 mm filmstrips that he took in New York and Los Angeles from 1957 to1962. In the triptychs, I juxtaposed images that I had taken in Japan and the United States with the archival images from my father’s suitcase.

As a series the work conveys my sense of traverse - Ma - crossing over the gaps that exist between here and there, now and then, triggering one to visualize their own past.