At the Arles photo festival over the summer, I was introduced to Mao Ishikawa's work by Mark Pearson. Mao Ishikawa grew up on the islands of Okinawa, which meant a childhood where the US military was a major and unavoidable presence. Speaking about her relationship with the American military, she has said, “I have two hearts in one body,” describing her love for American soldiers and hatred of the American government. This love for the GIs led to Mao following them back to the United States in the 1980s. She ended up in Philadelphia living with soldier friends where she photographed their often difficult lives back at home. The images are raw and sometimes graphic, but there is a real tenderness and playfulness that comes through thanks to Ishikawa's close relationship to her subjects. This is a groundbreaking group of work from one of the first female Japanese photographers to break into the male-dominated world of photography.
Further reading: Biography (in Japanese)