MIYAKO YOSHINAGA art prospects (547 W. 27th St., Manhattan) is pleased to present The Night Is Still Young, an exhibition by Tokyo and Los Angeles-based photography artist Tomoaki Hata. The exhibition will run from March 10 to April 9, 2011.

In recent news headlines, Japan, once Asia’s economic superpower, has been portrayed as having lost its edge. Meanwhile, from the late 1990s to the early 2000s it became home to a vigorous burst of self-expression by one of the most secretive subcultures of Japanese society. Gender-bending men and women, who in their day-to-day lives conform to societal norms, began to gather weekly at small nightclubs in the gay district of Osaka to cut loose and be themselves. The epicenter of this phenomenon was a bar called Explosion, where radically creative, smart, and witty drag queens combined art and activism in a talent show format.

In 1996, Hata, then a college student, began documenting these exuberant late-night parties and continued to do so until 2004. Now considered a rare chronicle of the nation’s first drag queen movement, these photographs were edited as a monograph entitled The Night is Still Young and published both in Japanese (Akaakasha) and English (powerHouse Books) in 2010. Our exhibition follows on the heel of its Tokyo debut last October and presents a selection of 25 images that highlight the movement’s heyday in the early 2000s.