- The Story of Two Women: Ishiuchi Miyako and Iwasaki Chihiro (Excerpts from a Conversation between Ishiuchi Miyako and Ueno Chizuko—On Mother’s and Hiroshima)
Saturday, November 30, 2019 15:00 - 16:30, Chihiro Art Museum Tokyo1 Ishiuchi Miyako (photographer) and Ueno Chizuko (sociologist) discuss the lifestyles of working women, in particular the lives of Fujikura Miyako (1916–2000, Ishiuchi’s mother) and Iwasaki Chihiro (1918–74, illustrator). What follows is an excerpted and edited version of their conversation; for a full transcript, see the Women’s Action Network (WAN) website https://wan.or.jp/article/show/9142.
Today, we have a conversation about what it means for women to live and work, a discussion about the lives of Fujikura Miyako and Iwasaki Chihiro. I am sure everyone here is familiar with the two interlocutors, but I would like to begin by giving a brief introduction. Ishiuchi Miyako is a world-renowned photographer who began publishing her photographs at the age of 28 and has been using her mother’s maiden name, Ishiuchi Miyako, as her artist name ever since. She was selected to represent the Japan Pavilion at the 2005 Venice Biennale and won the Hasselblad Award in 2014. Last year, we collaborated with her for the first time at the Chihiro Art Museum Azumino on the theme of Hiroshima, and this marks our second collaboration. Dr. Ueno Chizuko is known as a leading expert in women’s studies and gender studies, and her research interests also include elder care. She has taught at the University of Tokyo, among many other universities, and is currently the Chief Director of the Women’s Action Network (WAN).
When I was invited to take part in the 100th anniversary exhibition for the Chihiro Art Museum Azumino last year, I was really taken aback. Why me? How would I possibly engage with the work of Iwasaki Chihiro! I was told that Hiroshima would be the theme of the work with Chihiro (for [End Page 189] Ishiuchi Miyako and Ueno Chizuko an exhibition at the Chihiro Art Museum Azumino). And I had basically decided that I would not turn down anything related to Hiroshima.
How is Hiroshima related to Chihiro?
It was a collaboration that brought together my work on Hiroshima and a book in which Chihiro drew illustrations to accompany text written by a child who suffered from the atomic bomb. When I received the informational material, I was very surprised to find that Chihiro was so similar to my mother. I said to myself, “What’s this!” More than I could have imagined, I found myself amazed by how Chihiro thought about many things from such different perspectives, as well as the fact that she actually joined the Communist Party. It was not easy, I think, to join a political party back in those days.
Actually, right after the war ended, about a third of the population was sympathetic to Communism and were part of the Communist Party.
Is that so? That many?
It was a boom. They said if you did not join the Communist Party, you were not human. And about a third of the population was anti-imperialist.
It makes you wonder what has become of us today.
Indeed, it’s troubling. So, with Hiroshima as the subject, oil and water are mixed and cause a chemical reaction. When you mix oil and water, you get a really exquisite dressing.
So that’s how this combination came about. What do you think of it in the end?
What I realized was that Hiroshima has great power. I mean, the power that Hiroshima calls forth—including my collaboration with Chihiro—and its depth, breadth, content, and so on, including the fact that the war is not over yet. So, the museum asked me to do the same thing here for the Chihiro Art Museum Tokyo. But I don’t like doing the same thing twice. Then I suddenly remembered that Chihiro and my mother were only two years apart, both had professional jobs...