Etherton Gallery presents The Unguarded Moment, which features a selection of photographs made by Steve McCurry and Takeshi Ishikawa. Images of India and South Asia, both timeless and contemporary are at the core of the exhibition. This article focuses on Takeshi Ishikawa.
Takeshi Ishikawa got his start as W. Eugene Smith’s assistant in Japan on Smith’s last project, MINAMATA, which documented the effects of mercury poisoning on the village of Minamata, Japan. From 1982-2017, Ishikawa photographed the hijras, an indigenous transgender community recognized in India as a third gender. They are not part of the modern LGBTQ movement. Unlike McCurry’s lyrical, timeless portraits of India and South Asia, Ishikawa has made gritty portraits about specific individuals and communities in Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi, which describe the daily rituals, personal relationships, and the hijras’ shifting status within Indian culture.
Photographs of India’s hijra communities by Japanese photographer Takeshi Ishikawa are on display in the Axial Gallery. Ishikawa documents the individuals, rituals and relationships in portraits that point to the hijras’ shifting social status as India develops into a conservative, secular, tech powerhouse. Although hijras are officially recognized as a third gender in India, homosexuality was recriminalized in 2014. The loss of traditional sources of income providing blessings during important Hindu rituals, has forced many hijras to turn to prostitution. Ishikawa uses photography to help hijras fashion new identities as in Alan Putting on Lipstick as She Looks into the Mirror, Kolkata, (n.d.)., which presents gender as a fluid concept by referencing a scene common to both 18th century Mughal and European painting, the aristocratic lady looking in the mirror to apply make up. Takeshi Ishikawa was W. Eugene Smith’s assistant in Minamata, Japan in the early 1970s, on Smith’s last project known as Minamata, and has been photographing hijra communities in India since the 1980s.
Steve McCurry and Takeshi Ishikawa – The Unguarded Moment
September 4 – November 10, 2018.
135 South 6th Ave
Tucson, AZ 85701