Thursday, 16 March 2017

Narrative images: Waiting for the bus

"May 2, 1942—Byron, California. Third generation of American children of Japanese ancestry in crowd awaiting the arrival of the next bus which will take them from their homes to the Assembly center." (via)

"Mother and baby await evacuation bus. Posted on wall are schedules listing names of families, buses to which they are assigned, and times of departure. May 9, 1942. Centerville, California." (via)

Dorothea Lange (1895-1965), known as "America's greatest documentary photographer" (via), took photographs of US-Americans of Japanese ancestry who were incarcerated after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 - photographs that were "quietly censored by military commanders" who disapproved of Lange's work. Her prints were not actively distributed, in fact, many of them were marked as "impounded". After the war, the photographs were deposited in the National Archives where they remained unseen for decades and were released only in 2006.
Over 120.000 persons - including children - had to evacuate their homes and businesses and were relocated to camps surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards for a couple of years.
The War Relocation Authority recruited Dorothea Lange to create a photographic record of the evacuation and relocation. Lange accepted despite - or because of - her moral objection to prison camps (via and via and via). She never had a comfortable feeling about the war relocation job but hoped to expose what the government was doing to its citizens (via)

"Ms. Lange’s critique is especially impressive given the political mood of the time."
Linda Gordon

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photographs by Dorothea Lange via and via


  1. Replies
    1. Tim, nice to see you! Yes, Lange's photographs are extremely impressive, and expressive.

  2. Did you see 'Come See the Paradise'?

    1. I should rewatch it, thanks for the pointer.

    2. Not yet. Thank you, too, for the pointer!