Artist Profile / Inspiration / Process

Memory: Miyako Ishiuchi


“I continue to take photographs of scars. I cannot stop because they are so much like a photograph. More than like, they have almost the same quality as a photograph. They are visible events in the past and recorded days. Both the scars and the photographs are the manifestation of sorrow for the many things that can never be retrieved and love for a life that is a remembered present.”

~Miyako Ishiuchi (from Contemporary Art & Memory by Joan Gibbons)


Miyako Ishiuchi uses photography to bring us both physically and emotionally closer to her subject. Known best for her work photographing clothing from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, Ishiuchi approaches the objects she photographs with great care. Her pictures are intimate and detailed views of possessions and bodies. The wear and tear of age is revealed through drooping breasts, beautifully wrinkled skin and the rounded nubs of old lipstick. Trauma is evidenced by torn seams and badly healed wounds. In her series mother’s, displayed at the 2005 Venice Biennale, Ishiuchi hung images of her mother’s aging body next to photos of her belongings. Ishiuchi’s work challenges us to see time passing. As she says in the quote above, her photography is like a scar, a torn seam or a stain. It is a testimony of things lost.


By Elizabeth Ayerle

Read more about Miyako Ishiuchi,

Art in America, May 2009, (Inside the Photography of Ishiuchi Miyako),

Behind Things Left Behind: Ishiuchi Miyako

Update: Hyperallergic posted a new article January 22, 2015 on Ishiuchi

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