‘Unfinished Proof Ninomiya’ at CSUDH Art Gallery

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CARSON — “Unfinished Proof Ninomiya,” an exhibition by Alan Nakagawa, is on view at the CSU Dominguez Hills Art Gallery through Sept. 18.

The CSUDH community and the public are invited to this eye-opening exhibition featuring materials found in the newly rediscovered Ninomiya Photo Studio Archive. The exhibition reflects the culmination of a year of research and exploration by Praxis Artist-in-Residence Nakagawa. He spent the time investigating the archive, built from the Ninomiya Photo Studio, a business located in Little Tokyo from 1949 to 1970. The collection contains over 100,000 prints and negatives documenting the Los Angeles Japanese American community.

Nakagawa was tasked with modeling new ways in which contemporary artists can engage with CSU’s archival materials. “Unfinished Proof Ninomiya” features the new artwork he has created, a zine resulting from a series of workshops with Praxis program participants, and a collaboration with The Gerth Archive to present photographs and objects from the collection.

The exhibition features multidisciplinary elements that create what Nakagawa is considering a time machine — a look at the past through the photographs and lives of everyday people. A panorama created from historical photographs and contemporary field recordings is situated in the center of the gallery as the physical manifestation of the time machine, inviting viewer/participants to suspend their current relation with time and engage with the personal histories on view.

A second installation in “Unfinished Proof Ninomiya” is the transportable photo studio that Nakagawa has created. It has the appearance of a historical photo studio, and the artist will use it to stage a series of events inviting students and community members to have their portraits captured.

The exhibition also includes a series of watercolor sketches that recreate, reimagine, and recapture the Ninomiya photographs. In addition to historical photographs, Nakagawa has included carved birds, both historical objects from the archive and birds he carved that relate taxonomically to Los Angeles and conceptually to those whittled during imprisonment in the internment camps.

Los Angeles-based artist Nakagawa’s interdisciplinary practice includes video, sculpture, performance, and sound. It is rooted in research and the specific use of archives and oral histories. He was the inaugural artist-in-residence with the Los Angeles Department of Transportation and its Great Streets Neighborhood improvement program and has recently worked on projects at the Watts Towers, the Smithsonian, and the Getty Villa.

For years, Nakagawa documented the city’s rich history of experimental music and sound art through his webcast, “Ear Meal,” and he currently interviews artists working outside the mainstream commercial art world for his DubLab radio show “Visitings.” With his experience working with archival materials at institutions such as the Smithsonian and the Getty, Nakagawa was uniquely equipped to engage with the archival materials and raise public awareness and access to them.

Hours: Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and by appointment. Admission is free.

The University Art Gallery is on the first floor of LaCorte Hall, LCH A-107. LaCorte Hall is on the west side of campus, off Toro Center Drive/Tamcliff Street. For more information, call (310) 243-3334.

The primary goals of Praxis Studio are to activate public space, enhance local culture and create an expanded dialogue about art, public space and design in the local South Los Angeles community.Through this collaborative project, students and community members in the vicinity of CSUDH come together to explore their history, social conditions, neighborhoods, and storylines. This project is made possible through the generous support from the California Arts Council, Creative CaliforniaCommunities grant, Big City Forum and Cerritos College.

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  1. Thank you for writing about our project. i wanted to mention four things:
    1) The exhibition ends Sept 18, 2019
    2) We have a hashtag: #unfinishedproofninomiya
    3) Funding for my residency, workshops and exhibition where made possible through grants from the Pasadena Art Alliance and the National Archives
    and
    4) members of the Ninomiya Family came to visit the exhibition a number of weeks ago. I wasn’t there but I am very grateful for their support.

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