ー When did you first come up with the concept of PALI?
Daichiro Shinjo（Daichiro） I first got the idea around the summer of 2019, when I came back to Miyakojima and decided to stay and make this my base. At the time, there was nowhere in Miyakojima to showcase artwork. The location that’s now PALI used to be my studio. And before I started renting it, I had once set it up as a simple gallery that turned out to attract all kinds of people. That was when I first met Naoki too. Friends and others kept coming even after I turned the space into my studio. It served as a sort of salon, where we talked about the culture and history of Miyako, and about art and music. It was a lot of fun. I also worked in that space, so having visitors gave me the chance to both give and receive energy. Naoki had nurtured the idea of making a museum in Miyakojima for a long time as well, and we began sharing and discussing our dreams.
Naoki Ishikawa（Naoki） Before Daichiro rented the building as his studio, it housed a gallery and café called Uesuya. I held a solo exhibition there around 2015. The space is steeped in history, having showcased the works of great figures from way before, including the photographer Shomei Tomatsu.
ー What does the name PALI mean?
Daichiro PALI means “field” in the Miyako dialect. We wanted to invite everyone to cultivate the space and grow our circle together. To make the space friendly for people other than those who come to see the exhibitions, we also serve coffee and wine at the stand next to the gallery, and plan to organize regular markets too.
ー Naoki, When did you begin visiting Miyakojima on a regular basis?
Naoki My first visit must have been nearly fifteen years ago. Around the time I released my photobook Archipelago [in 2009], I was making frequent trips and taking pictures in Miyakojima. I’ve been to practically every corner of the island. Lately, I think I’ve arrived at the point where I can see the island through the eyes of a half traveler, half resident.
ー Isn’t it unusual for both partners to also be artists?
Daichiro Our operation might revolve around artist-in-residence programs. Personally, I like to travel around and work at my various destinations, drawing inspiration from the local scenery and culture. So I figure the reverse is also true. If artists came from outside the island, they would notice the details that we tend to overlook, see Miyako through a fresh lens, and express their observations. Miyako is undergoing dramatic changes that some describe as an economic bubble. I thought I could give both islanders and visitors the opportunity to pause and think about the situation on the island.
ー What hopes and expectations do you have for the gallery?
Naoki I look forward to seeing different types of artists come here and produce new works that challenge the conventional image of Miyakojima. When people in mainland Japan think of Miyakojima, they only picture the ocean and the nature. But in reality, there are people working here and a more complex, diverse history and culture that echo that of the mainland. It would be great if we could communicate that from PALI.
Daichiro Even Miyakojima has what’s generally called a city area and a country area, and the gallery is located right in the middle. I like that it offers easy access to both locals and visitors.
Naoki Also, the distance from Miyako to Taiwan is closer than the distance from Miyako to Tokyo. I’m hoping PALI will reach out to people in Asia, and be a place to think about Miyako in the context of our ties with say Taiwan, the Philippines, and the countries of maritime Asia.
ー Will each of you come up with ideas about whose work to display?
Daichiro We’re talking about presenting works from various genres, like photography, painting, sculpture. Apart from exhibitions, we also want to organize live concerts, book fairs, and talk events.
ー What do you feel is exciting about running the gallery as partners?
Naoki We have our own connections in our respective genres, and slightly different views and approaches. I look forward to mixing what each of us brings to the table.
Daichiro I like that each of us has our own medium of expression. We will curate exhibitions, but we aren’t curators. I hope the visitors will embrace that and find it exciting.
ー Finally, could each of you give a message for our readers?
Naoki From me, I’d just like to say first and foremost, please come. Come and see the gallery, and enjoy your time in Miyakojima.
Daichiro Me too, I just hope people will come. I hope that PALI will inspire visitors to feel the culture of Miyako, not merely as a part of Okinawa but from a fresh angle, and to take that feeling home and broaden their horizons.
Naoki Ishikawa was born in 1977 in Tokyo. He received the Newcomer’s Award from the Photographic Society of Japan and the Kodansha Publication Culture Award for Photography in 2008 for New Dimension and Polar, the Domon Ken Award in 2011 for Corona, and the Lifetime.
Daichiro Shinjo is an artist modernizing traditional Japanese calligraphy shodō, pursuing unconventional light and contemporary expressions. Born in Miyako Island (Okinawa) he began shodō at the age of four and inherited the influences of Zen philosophy and Okinawan spiriritual culture from his grandfather, a zen monk and revered folklorist in Japan. Daichiro graduated from the department of Space Design at Shizuoka University of Art and Culture, and currently resides and works from his studio in Miyako Island.