We are pleased to announce solo exhibition of Michiko Sasaki, a Japanese woman photographer, will show 6 vintage prints from her serial works of student movements of the Nippon University All Campus Joint Struggle Committee.
Sasaki, born in 1934 in Nemuro City, Hokkaido, left her husband in Hokkaido at age 22 to pull a food stall in Shinjuku, Tokyo, vending Oden (Japanese style hotchpotch). Divorced later, she joined Nikkatsu, one of the major movie companies representing Japan then, to edit movies at the studio. 3 years later, she graduated from a photography academy to become a photographer. While running a legendary bar called “Musasabi” (flying squirrel) in Shinjuku Golden Street, she took part in producing a Nichiei Shinsha’s documentary film “Come, the dead, to cut off my retreat”, recording the struggles at Nippon University. This touched off her taking photos of the Nippon University student movements. Subsequently, after managing another joint “Golden Gate” in Shinjuku, she migrated to Brazil where she carried on as a photographer. For 9 years, she ran a succession of trades, operating bars, restaurants and a pension, which brought her so much wealth that invited grudging Mafia gangs to strike. To fight them, she put up a barricade with refrigerators at the entrance and engaged in gunfire with the assaulters. She built up a private library of over 20,000 books for local people of Japanese ancestry who were starving for Japanese literature for reading. After several such episodes, she returned home to Japan, and later lived on a reclusive Island of Oshima. Michiko Sasaki is back to Tokyo again, where she, now at 83, runs a bar in Shinjuku Golden Street, still active as a unique photographer with extraordinary careers.
This exhibit is a part of the records of the College of Art, Nihon University during 1968 and 1969, covered closely by Sasaki who defied the danger creeping on her as the students’ movements in Japan had become violent in the 1960’s. Quite different from the “historical records” photographed by numerous photo journalists, these works depict students with their faces so radiant with a sense of solidarity, resolved in “personal transformation” and full of vibrancy. These photos also remind you strongly of the elements of “personal story” of the photographer who fell in love with them. Her love is evident in this volume of photos. At the time of taking these photos, Sasaki withheld publishing the works, fearing that they might be used as disadvantageous evidences against the students. Her works were published in 2009 in this collection.
Please come and see the exhibition.