• 2015 WHITE DOVE | Okinawa Peace Art Exhibition Naha Shimin Gallery
    那覇市民ギャラリーにて、沖縄平和美術展「White Dove」


「White Dove」白い鳩

2年前の夏、 元ひめゆり学徒だった謝花澄枝さんに会いに行った。ひめゆり平和祈念資料館で解説者としてフロアーに立ち続けて来た元ひめゆり学徒の方々が髙齢のため、 引退されると知人から聞き、ぜひ直接お話を聞きたいと思い当時3歳の娘は夫に任せて、一人で八重山から会いに行った。ー13歳でアメリカに渡った私は日本の学生が修学旅行で行くひめゆりの塔も資料館も初めてだった。謝花さんに会うまでは、話を聞くのが怖くて暗い気持ちになるのでは?と心配もした。心配とは裏腹に、謝花さんの醸し出すおおらかさや、 優しさにものすごく安心した。
お話を聞き、 ゆっくりと館内を一緒に歩いた後、 持っていた力メラを見せて 「ポ一トレ一トを撮らせてください。」とお願いしてみた。 「良いですよ。」と言ってくれたので、数枚撮影させてもらった。後にフィルムを現像してみたが、どれもしっくりこなかった。
資料館のスタッフの方にスナッブ用に持っていたヵメラで謝花さんと私が並んでいる写真を一枚撮影してもらった。資料館での写責は、このー枚がー番意味のある物に感じた 写責を撮るって何だろう、このー枚を観ながら色々と想った。


White Dove

Two summers ago, I flew alone from Yaeyama, leaving my then 3 year old daughter at home with my husband, to meet Ms. Sumie Jahana at the Himeyuri Peace Museum in Okinawa. She was a Himeyuri student and survivor of the battle of Okinawa in1945. Many of the survivors are getting older now and retiring. I felt like this might be my last chance to hear a survivor recall her experiences, to hear the stories first-hand.
The Himeyuri Peace Museum is practically a required stop for Japanese students on school field trips, but since I grew up in the U.S., this would be my first visit. Before meeting Ms. Jahana, I was nervous, and a little scared to hear about the war, but after we talked, everything seemed less unsettling and even calm, in spite of the story she had to tell. The way she spoke and moved made me feel relaxed, as though I’d known her for a long time.
After we talked and shared some time together at the museum, I asked if it would be okay to take her picture. She agreed, so I tried to improvise a few portraits. Once I got back home, I processed the film, only to find that nothing I’d shot seemed right - none of the portraits captured the strong impression she left me with.
As I was leaving the museum, I handed someone on the staff a small camera and asked them to take a picture of me and Ms. Jahana. This turned out to be the most meaningful portrait taken that day. It made me think about our attempts to document and convey life by photographing it: Why do we do it at all? And how often we’re fooled by our own preconceptions in those expectant moments before the shutter snaps open!
This summer, I plan to show my daughter these photographs and tell her about Ms. Jahana and that trip to the museum. On the flight back home, looking out the window of the plane, I saw white doves flying in the sky.