Sunday, 15 January 2017

executive order 9066

Via Bad Ethnography, here is a moving and powerful narrative of the experience of the more than one hundred thousand American citizens of Japanese extraction made to relocate from the Pacific coast to internment camps in the interior of the country under very austere and uncertain conditions as told with the help of the keen lens of Dorthea Lange.
Under contract for the American Farm Security Administration during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression the pioneering photographer is probably best known for those iconic images, but Lange also sought capture this tragic episode when people’s loyalty was conflated with their ancestry and both were held in contempt in the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbour. Germans and Italians were also detained but in far fewer numbers. Her photographs were seized however for being obviously critical of the forced evacuation policies and remained censored and unknown to the public until 2006. The whole exhibit is well-curated and makes effective use of the extensive amount of scenes from that time and personal stories. All of it is a chilling reminder of extraordinary times and the responsibility that comes with might but one of Lange’s early photographs of children reciting the pledge of allegiance just before being dispatched to a camp far from home delivers an especially poignant message of prejudice.