Jerry Takigawa’s vintage Japanese American family photographs at New Orleans Photo Alliance, taken before over 100,000 mostly innocent American residents were forcibly detained in World War II internment camps for “security” reasons, remind us that ethnic hysteria can erupt suddenly. Here, the contrast between original images of smiling Japanese Americans, re-photographed to include internment ID cards and racist relics like “Jap Hunting Licenses,” is starkly chilling. They also are meditative in a way that penetrates beyond the anger that blatant injustice provokes, inviting us to look more deeply into the mysterious inner darkness that remains a part of the human condition even in the most ostensibly “advanced” societies.
-D. Eric Bookhardt New Orleans GambitReview: “Balancing Cultures”, Aug. 6, 2018
After my mother passed away, my brother and I were left with boxes of old photographs. Among them were images of family members taken in camp. In my family, when anyone spoke of “camp,” they weren’t referring to an idyllic pine-scented summer retreat; they were referring to the WWII American concentration camps sanctioned by President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. My Monterey-born parents were incarcerated at the Jerome, Arkansas camp. While this project gives voice to my family’s story, the process of researching and making these images has greatly informed the roots of my ideology.
Piecing together the fragments of my family history puzzle of old photographs and artifacts, I began an examination of my family’s story and the history of the American Japanese diaspora. I gained a new understanding and appreciation for the struggles my family endured to create a home in this country. This series represents personal interpretations of the emotions, insights, and deep collective acceptance of the injustices unexpressed by my immigrant grandparents and American-born parents.
There is no scientific basis for race—race and racism are social constructs. I ask you to consider how race is an institution we sanction that leads to labels, judgments, and separation—motivated by social and economic power. As an artist who works inphotography, I make art so that I might know myself better and connect to a larger world. I believe if true change is to be achieved in this country, it will be through the kind of deep spiritual and emotional understanding that art can foster.
- Jerry Takigawa, 2018