Osamu James Nakagawa: Fences // Conner Green: Imperia

March 1-23, 2019

Artists Osamu James Nakagawa and Conner Green will present new works that explore outmoded forms of conquest, power, and control—both real and imagined. Nakagawa’s work will consist of an installation of cyanotype prints created while in Okinawa. Green’s new work extends his exploration of monumentality and power through the language of architectural blueprints. The two seemingly disparate bodies of work present the question: How do the forces of power and control manifest themselves in real, immediate ways and in our collective conscious?


In James Nakagawa’s work, the landscape often functions as a witness to history and suffering, as well as a platform to examine conflicts political and personal in nature. Raised in Tokyo, Japan, his family moved to Houston, Texas when he was fifteen. As an artist he mines the complicated pasts of both countries, touching on issues related to nationalism, family, pop-culture, tensions between eastern and western ideals, and war. Since 2006, James has produced several series reflecting on the legacy of World War II and Japan-U.S. relations on Okinawa.

Nakagawa started FENCES several years ago, as he was visiting the island to complete MAPS, a series using a frottage technique to create rubbings of words from war memorials. During this time, he had received permission to photograph inside a U.S. base looking through the fence at Okinawa. Nakagawa’s clearance was revoked before he could begin the project following a disagreement with the colonel assigned to him as a PR liaison. The conversation concerned the benefits of the U.S. military station to the island population. In reaction to this change of circumstance and the protests over the Henoko relocation, Nakagawa used leftover paper and cyanotype chemistry to make photograms of the outside of the base’s fence.

The planned installation of the work is key to counteracting the associated clichés. When James made the photograms, he did not align the sheets of paper in the same orientation against the fence. Presented in grids on four sides of a wall, the images are forceful and oppressive. Viewed edge to edge they crackle with energy and immediacy. The experience is disorienting; the barrier feels like it is both advancing and receding. Without an accompanying statement, this project would provoke more questions than answers—on which side is the photographer? Is the viewer looking up or standing squarely in front of it; are they floating? Like his prior work, he taps into feelings of claustrophobia, visualizing the latent histories that continue to linger in the Okinawan landscape.


Conner Green seeks to investigate the social ramifications of monumental architecture through collages of found materials, drawings, and photographs. “I understand ‘architecture’ to refer to more than just the design and decoration of buildings, but also to how thought or action can make order and meaning out of random space,” Green says. “My work, in part, attempts to excavate those embedded meanings.” To create his work, Green digitally assembles his materials into sketchy, black inkjet prints that resemble schematic drawings or computer renderings, producing a sense of disorder in the otherwise highly organized and rigid, even scientific, discourse of architecture. The rendered forms do not refer to any extant structures, rather they attempt to portray a kind of typological composite of different built forms throughout history.

About the artists

Osamu James Nakagawa was born in New York City in 1962 and raised in Tokyo. He returned to the United States, moving to Houston, Texas, at the age of 15. He received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of St. Thomas, Houston in 1986 and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Houston in 1993. Currently, Mr. Nakagawa is the Ruth N. Halls Distinguished Professor of Photography at Indiana University, where he directs the Center for Integrative Photographic Studies. He lives and works in Bloomington, Indiana. Nakagawa is a recipient of the 2009 Guggenheim Fellowship, the 2010 Higashikawa New Photographer of the Year, and 2015 Sagamihara Photographer of the Year in Japan. Nakagawa’s work has been exhibited internationally, solo exhibitions include: Eclipse, PGI, Tokyo (2018); Kai, sepia EYE, New York (2018); OKINAWA TRILOGY: Osamu James Nakagawa, Kyoto University of Art and Design (2013);GAMA Caves, PGI, Tokyo; Banta: Stained Memory, Sakima Art Museum, Okinawa, Japan (2009); Kai: Osamu James Nakagawa, SEPIA International Inc., New York (2003).

His work is included in numerous public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art; George Eastman Museum; Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Sakima Art Museum, Okinawa; The Museum of Contemporary Photography Chicago, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Grand Rapid Museum of Art and others. Nakagawa’s monograph GAMA Caves is available from Akaaka Art Publisher in Tokyo, Japan.

Conner Green (born 1984) is an artist from Indianapolis, IN. He studied art and literature at Indiana University and received his MFA from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. His work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally. Much of his work combines disciplines, incorporating found sculptural and print-based elements. His work explores concepts of institutional critique, myth, desire, and master narratives. He finds all of these concepts rife for excavation in the consumer-based material world and the built environment. His process allows for a certain degree of chance or disorder to come into play, which he believes enables the phenomenal world to speak for itself.