日本語版はこちらTransplanting the Yoshiwara: Mayumi Oda and the Valorization of American Sex Workers
The print series Storyville by Mayumi Oda (b. 1945) refers to a sixteen-block-wide neighborhood in New Orleans in which the city government sanctioned prostitution from 1897 to 1917. Official guides to this district, which were published from 1895 through 1915, described each house, the services it offered, and corresponding prices. By 1900, Storyville had become one of New Orleans’ most profitable centers of revenue. Beyond the sex trade, the district is further associated with the origins of jazz. Several musical pioneers, including Jelly Roll Morton (1890–1941), began their careers there.
Some time around 1915, John Ernest Joseph Bellocq (1873–1949) photographed several of the prostitutes in Storyville. He never published the images, but after his death, the negatives were purchased by photographer Lee Friedlander (b. 1934), and in 1970, Bellocq’s works were exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art. The photographs received overwhelming critical praise and inspired numerous books and films.
Though closely based upon Bellocq’s photographs, Oda sought to transform the women’s appearance. The artist explains:
“They seemed like unfortunate women, but I somehow loved the photographs, and I wanted to show these women in color. I wanted to say to them, ‘You are so beautiful, I remember you.’”
The similarities between Storyville and the Yoshiwara are difficult to overlook, and Oda’s portraits find clear precedence in the works of Kitagawa Utamaro (c. 1753–1806) and other designers of bijinga (portraits of beautiful women).
Left: John Ernest Joseph Bellocq (1873–1949)
From the Storyville series
United States, c. 1912