Two young girls being filmed as they wait to board a train that will take them to Manzanar

過去の展覧会

BeHere / 1942

日系アメリカ人強制収容についての新たな視点

Welcome to the audio tour of BeHere / 1942: A New Lens on the Japanese American Incarceration. Go behind the scenes with artist Masaki Fujihata as he delves into the questions he asked, the observations he made, and the concepts that came to fruition as he created this exhibition.

Through historic photographs and two augmented reality (AR) experiences, Masaki Fujihata invites viewers to participate in the exhibition, confronts them with the injustice of World War II incarceration, and asks: Is history safely behind us?

The exhibition and audio tour begin at the conclusion of Common Ground: The Heart of a Community. Scan the QR codes throughout the exhibition at JANM or click the buttons below to listen.

The audio tour is also available through the Bloomberg Connects app.  LEARN MORE

Click on the arrows next to the buttons to view transcriptions.

2022年05月07日-2023年01月08日

Japanese American National Museum

100 North Central Avenue

Los Angeles, CA 90012

Welcome to the audio tour of BeHere / 1942: A New Lens on the Japanese American Incarceration. Go behind the scenes with artist Masaki Fujihata as he delves into the questions he asked, the observations he made, and the concepts that came to fruition as he created this exhibition.

Through historic photographs and two augmented reality (AR) experiences, Masaki Fujihata invites viewers to participate in the exhibition, confronts them with the injustice of World War II incarceration, and asks: Is history safely behind us?

The exhibition and audio tour begin at the conclusion of Common Ground: The Heart of a Community. Scan the QR codes throughout the exhibition at JANM or click the buttons below to listen.

The audio tour is also available through the Bloomberg Connects app.  LEARN MORE

Click on the arrows next to the buttons to view transcriptions.

#BeHere1942

2022年05月07日-2023年01月08日

Japanese American National Museum

100 North Central Avenue

Los Angeles, CA 90012

Welcome to the audio tour of BeHere / 1942: A New Lens on the Japanese American Incarceration. Go behind the scenes with artist Masaki Fujihata as he delves into the questions he asked, the observations he made, and the concepts that came to fruition as he created this exhibition.

Through historic photographs and two augmented reality (AR) experiences, Masaki Fujihata invites viewers to participate in the exhibition, confronts them with the injustice of World War II incarceration, and asks: Is history safely behind us?

The exhibition and audio tour begin at the conclusion of Common Ground: The Heart of a Community. Scan the QR codes throughout the exhibition at JANM or click the buttons below to listen.

The audio tour is also available through the Bloomberg Connects app.  LEARN MORE

Click on the arrows next to the buttons to view transcriptions.

#BeHere1942

AUDIO TOUR

Welcome to BeHere / 1942: A New Lens on the Japanese American Incarceration

Saturday May 9, 1942. The day the lives of Japanese Americans living in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, would be forever changed. Following instructions given by Exclusion Order 33, thousands that day were forced to leave behind their homes, their schools, their livelihoods. Bringing only what they could carry, these incarcerees stepped onto a bus, headed to an unknown place, for an unknown amount of time, not knowing if they would ever return. 

It is this moment in history that artist Masaki Fujihata draws our attention to in his exhibition, BeHere / 1942. Through the photos and augmented reality experience he presents, we are confronted with the injustice that 120,000 Japanese Americans had to endure. We are left with the question: Is history actually safely behind us?

Look at the eyes of the six faces in this room. What do you see?

[sound effect: children playing]

[male voice: “Over here! Look at the camera!”]

[sound effect: camera shutter]

We’ve all been on the receiving end of this directive, our expression at that moment in time, preserved indefinitely. But not everything about a photo appears within its frame. While the subjects of a photograph go down in history, the person standing behind the camera is unseen. 

Who took the photographs around you? Why were they taken in the first place? What was the photographer trying to capture? Fujihata explains the discovery that led him to ask these questions, and ultimately, create the exhibition before you.

“In the process of realizing this project, I saw a lot of archived photographs in the Library of Congress and the National Archives. Most of them were shot by documentary photographers and the images were still incredibly vivid because they were scanned in high resolution from the original negatives. One day, when I close-up the image of the eyes of a little girl, I noticed something very unusual: in her eyes, there are reflections of five people. One is obviously a photographer, but who are the others? They were likely government officials, actually they were observing the photographer. And they wanted to control. Now you are looked at by 6 faces in this room. You are standing in the same position where the photographer stood.“

How does Dorothea Lange capture forced removal given the restrictions imposed on her?

The photographs on this wall are the full-frame versions of the closeups you saw in the previous room. These, and the rest of the photos in this room, were taken by Dorothea Lange. The War Relocation Authority, or WRA, hired Lange to photograph the Japanese American incarceration.  However, they imposed restrictions on her work as a photographer: “no talking with incarcerees,” “no pictures of barbed wire fences, watch towers or armed guards.” Nevertheless, upon viewing Lange’s photographs, the WRA impounded them for the duration of the war. Though these photos have been in the National Archives since then, they were not brought to public attention until 1972, and again in 2006 when they were published in books. As you observe Lange’s photographs, consider how, or whether, Lange is able to capture the reality of the situation given the restrictions imposed on her.

To your left, there are five photographs of Japanese Americans lining up outside the Japanese American Citizens League building in San Francisco on April 25, 1942. This was in response to Exclusion Order 20. Copies of this order were posted all around the district.

[hammer sound effect]

There were 108 exclusion orders in total issued across the West Coast, each one directing Japanese Americans from a different region to report to their nearest civil control station. There, they would register and receive a family number in preparation for the forced removal. If they failed to show up, they faced fines and imprisonment.

 

“Please have a look at the far left picture, the lady calculating the length of the line. Her name is Shizuko Ina. You also can find her in the rightmost picture. Please observe carefully about the shadows between the leftmost and rightmost photos, we can estimate how much time they spent at the same location. This was also same duration with Dorothea Lange.”


Fujihata’s observations reveal that photographs are more than just flat two-dimensional representations of people and places. Rather, when put in conversation with one another, they can reveal clues about meaning and context, teaching us more about the subjects and their experiences.

The large photograph on the next wall tells another story from that same day.

[sound effect: child talking, woman laughing]

The woman sitting on the upper right of the stairs is Mrs. Nakamoto. She is pictured with her two children on either side of her and their friends.

Though seemingly an ordinary photograph, Fujihata once again sensed that there was more to it than what meets the eye.

“Throughout my research, I saw quite a few photographs with people smiling and I felt a bit uncomfortable with many of them. Most of them are directed by the cameraman therefore the smiles are superficial. However, among all these smiles, Mrs. Nakamoto’s smile is very different from others. I can say it is full of mercy and peace. So, I wanted to know the reason behind this special smile. I started checking Dorothea Lange’s itinerary when she went to where, especially in April 1942. After a few months of research, I finally found her memo at the Bancroft Library in UC Berkeley, which looked like a draft for the report to the War Relocation Office. The memo telling us: ‘April 25th we were doing the line outside the San Francisco Japanese American Citizens League waiting to be processed. Mrs. F. Nakamoto was the pregnant woman sitting on the steps with her children. She wanted a picture of the children to send to her husband who had been sent to North Dakota a couple of months ago.’”


Why was Mrs. Nakamoto’s husband sent to North Dakota? He, alongside countless other Issei men, many of them community leaders, had been arrested by the FBI in December of 1941—some just hours after the Pearl Harbor bombing. Labeled as dangerous enemy aliens, they were arrested without evidence and, without a trial, were sent to prisons run by the Department of Justice.

“Now we know this is a very private photograph, because her smile had been dedicated to her husband, not for us. Therefore, when we see this photograph, we have a responsibility to receive her smile because we are standing in her husband's position. At this point, we are already involved in the history of this photograph.”

 

The next six photos show scenes from the first forced removal in San Francisco.

[sound effect: people shouting, doors/trunks closing, car driving away]

On April 29,1942, Japanese Americans were boarded onto buses and sent to Tanforan Temporary Detention Center. If this place looks at all familiar to you, that’s because these photographs were taken on the same street where registration occurred—just four days prior. Four days—to pack what you can carry, sell the rest, and say goodbye to the life you’ve led up until that point.

“The second photo from the right shows a slightly different atmosphere. Within a mountain of luggage, there are several people waiting, but no one is smiling. Usually Lange took several photos with the same subjects within different distances. But in this case there is only one photograph was left, perhaps she could not continue the photo session. Their eyes are shouting to show their attitude and prevent her approach. They resisted to be taken a picture. I think this is quite a rare photograph capturing the honest reaction from the Japanese Americans.”

Observe this snapshot of Dorothea Lange by her long-term assistant, Rondal Partridge.

At the next corner, one snapshot taken by Rondal Partridge, who is a long-term assistant of Dorothea Lange. This photo shows her process of taking pictures at a migrant camp. As Partridge told in an interview:

“With the Rolleiflex around her neck, she would set up another camera on a tripod. The kids would gather round and ask for their picture to be taken. Then they would run to tell their parents, and she would follow. That’s how she met the adults.” It’s not easy to take such a nice close-up picture of someone who they just met.

Watch this short film inspired by Russell Lee’s photographs of incarcerees at the Old Santa Fe train station in Los Angeles on April 1, 1942.

“This is not a film produced in 1942. This film was digitally recreated with the 3D models referring to the photographs shot by Russell Lee at the Old Santa Fe train station in Los Angeles on April 1, 1942.”


These were among the first Japanese Americans that would leave this station to go to the Owens Valley Reception Center. But this scene differed from the ones that would come in the following weeks. The people leaving this day were volunteers, and the families of volunteers who were willing to leave Los Angeles early to construct the Manzanar barracks and prepare for the arrival of the other incarcerees. You might wonder, why would someone help build the very prison they would be trapped in? While the motives likely varied from person to person, we know that some may have done so for the monetary compensation they were promised. Others may have agreed to it because they were promised that the rest of their family could later join them at the same camp. Regardless, as they departed, no one knew for certain what lay ahead.

“Most of them who were waiting for the train, not moving in the film. They looked like freezed as a target for the cameramen, who had the freedom of moving like a hunter.”


In the creation of this animated video, Fujihata used not only photos, but also real people to act as models, several of whom were incarcerated in the camps as children, including June. June Aochi Berk, who was sent from Los Angeles to Santa Anita Detention Center and then to the incarceration camp in Rohwer, Arkansas, speaks about her memories from the forced removal. She was 10 at the time.

“My mom and dad at that time, we all knew we had to get rid of everything we had, that was Japanese. So my mother and my sister built a bonfire in the backyard and they broke all of our Japanese dishes and artwork.

Everybody was burning everything because they didn't want to be caught with anything Japanese in their home because they were afraid of being arrested if they had anything. So on the day that we were leaving, I remember we had to leave our dog with our neighbor. And probably that was the saddest part of leaving. But on the other hand, my mother and my father made…wanted to make us not be afraid. So this is like, oh, well, look, you're going to go on a big bus ride on a big bus. I don't know if they knew where we were going, but they tried to make it so that all of us children wouldn't feel any fear. And it shows in the pictures of this exhibit how calm our parents were.

My father had come to the United States in 1899, when he was twenty years old, for the American Dream of raising his family here in America. And I think they still believed that that was still possible.”

Gaze at the replica of the train that took incarcerees like June Berk from Los Angeles to the Rohwer concentration camp in Arkansas.

For June, BeHere / 1942 brought back memories of her own family being forced to travel from Los Angeles to Rohwer, Arkansas, where she would spend the next three years.

“In the exhibit, there's a big train and this exact replica of…picture of the train that we rode on. Going from Santa Anita, we had to come back to LA to board the train, and it took us about four or five days to get to Arkansas because the train that the Japanese were riding on would always have to step aside if another train wanted to go by.

So they would put us on the side and then let the other trains go by. And then they put us back on the train. So on the train cars, my brother was what they call a car monitor, and that meant that he would take orders from everybody on the car. Whatever candies or sodas that people wanted to buy he’d take the order. And as we rode on the train, again it was a big adventure for me because I had never been on a train before.

And we went through the Colorado River. We went over the Rio Grande River. We went through Texas. We go to sleep and wake up. The next day is still Texas. Then we wake up, the next day is still Texas. We finally got to Arkansas and went up to camp. And that was the first time… I mean, our whole family never thought of ever going to Arkansas.

And I remember thinking ‘this is Daniel Boone country,’ so I kept thinking we’d see Daniel Boone sometime soon.

And I had heard, I didn't know at that time, but I heard later on that the people in Arkansas were very afraid of the Japanese. So they were told if anybody, if any of the Japanese try to escape, they'll be shot on sight, you know, because they wanted to make the people of Arkansas feel safe from us.”

Use the AR-enabled replica of a Graflex camera to become a photographer in 1942.

A plethora of government-hired and press photographers were deployed at the Old Santa Fe train station that day, making it one of the most widely photographed scenes of Japanese Americans during World War II. And this was not coincidental. It was photos like the ones you see of people smiling and waving from a train window, that were published in newspapers with captions such as the following in the LA Daily Herald: “No tearful farewells marked the exodus yesterday. Smiling at the prospect of a new exciting life, the Japanese waved goodbye to Los Angeles.”

“They say because the government wanted to promote Japanese Americans’ removal was done in a humanitarian way. This is why the government delivered many cameramen on this day for capturing a good mood. But in reality, these people were likely smiling because they would soon be reunited with their fathers or brothers.”


You can now take on the role of a photographer in 1942, documenting Japanese Americans as they waited for the trains.

“Here I prepared replica cameras, looked similar to Graflex, but it is not the same as a film camera, there is an Augmented Reality function embedded. There are the same people who are in the film and they are waiting for the train. This Graflex camera is a favorite camera for Dorothea Lange. Unfortunately she did not come down to Los Angeles and did not document this event on April 1. It’s really a pity. Here, you have an opportunity to be Dorothea Lange to take pictures. But, you have a responsibility to choose who to capture, and how you want to frame your subject instead of her.”


As you pick up the camera, rather than just capture whatever you see, think of this act as a meditation, an homage–not so much to the person behind the lens, but to the people in front of it.

See the live cam of Mount Williamson, the same view of the mountain that Manzanar incarcerees saw in 1942.

“This is a real-time streaming image from Manzanar, the image of Mount Williamson. So if you go there now you can see the exact same image. You look at the mountain in 2022, please think about how this is the same mountain for the people at the camp in 1942. The life of the mountain is longer than humans, before we came in and even after we’re gone.”

Walk downstairs and check out an iPad to experience the AR installation.

“Please do not miss the last installation. It shows you the crowd of people waiting for the buses leaving from Los Angeles to the next destination, such as assembly centers or the camps. When they arrived here they had already abandoned their properties, cars, and houses, and they were not told where they were going. They were suspended in the vacuum of time and space. In the process of production, I checked several articles and testimonies for knowing the moment of waiting for the buses, but I recognized that most of them were not likely to remember. This is why I focused on archived photography for understanding the feeling, thoughts, or meaning of the moment through their faces and their actions and so on. Through experiencing the photographs, I started to create scenarios, trying to capture, trying to recreate, these tiny, already-discarded memories.”


Why did so few incarcerees ever talk about waiting for the buses and trains? Perhaps the memories were deemed unimportant and intentionally not spoken about. Perhaps they were so brief that they simply faded with time. Or perhaps they were so painful that they were buried deep in people’s subconscious, where they remained. How do we preserve moments in history that lack firsthand accounts? It’s possible that, rather than serve as a memorial of the forced removal, BeHere / 1942 is a reflection on what it means to hold and to keep silence–giving just as much honor to the stories that were never spoken about as the ones that were.

“The prejudice against the Japanese was so hateful at that time. You know these horrible things were said about them. And yet the [...] our parents, they endured all that. They endured and they still persevered to go forward. And I, I can't thank my parents enough. And I never got a chance to thank them for that. And I think not only myself, but I think all of us Niseis feel that way about our parents. We never really got to thank them.

And so this exhibit, when I see this exhibit, I think that Masaki honors that spirit of gaman, he honors that spirit of kodomo no tame ni, which means for the sake of the children, they will endure all this hatred and pain, and for the sake of the children, we will do everything we can to protect them. And I think those kinds of feelings that they had were what made them able to endure the pain. I, I believe that.”

Listen to June Berk’s participation in the filming of the AR installation in the JANM Plaza.

“You know, I sent out an email to people that I knew in the community and told them about this project that Masaki is doing and all the people that responded [...] I think they wanted to respond because they wanted to honor their parents. I felt the same way. So we all picked out clothes that were similar to the kind of clothes that like I picked out a coat with a fur collar that my mother wore and a hat that she wore. Same type of hat. I think we want to honor the Isseis. So, everybody got in the spirit of making this augmented reality movie possible for Masaki and I know that for me, the reason I chose to wear the fur collar is because I used to like to take a nap on my mother's fur collar and I would fall asleep on her coat. And that's how they—we were treated.

We were, you know, we were treated so—with so much love and care. And they protected us children. So. So, in other words, I think the people that came out to be in this movie [...] that Masaki was doing, is because they thought about their parents and they thought even though they weren't there at the time, they wanted to reenact that same scene that their parents had to live through.”

Learn more about the creation of the AR installations.

“All 3D human figures were shot at the volumetric capture studios, one in Tokyo and another in Los Angeles. Totally sixty-seven volunteer actors were involved and 178 human figures were included in this scene. This is the first time in the world augmented reality and volumetric capture was used on a large-scale public art installation.”

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