SF Arts: Then They Came for Me: Incarceration of Japanese Americans During WWII

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Then They Came for Me: Incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII and the Demise of Civil Liberties is a multimedia exhibition featuring imagery by noted American photographers Dorothea Lange, Clem Albers and Ansel Adams opens January 18, 2019.

 

The exhibit will be enhanced by additional imagery from photographers commissioned by the U.S. government’s War Relocation Authority.


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Presented by the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation in partnership with the National Japanese American Historical Society and J-Sei, the exhibition tells the story of the forced removal of 120,000 Japanese American citizens and residents from their homes during WWII, without due process or other constitutional protections.

Executive Order 9066, signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 19, 1942 set in motion the incarceration of all Americans of Japanese ancestry living on or near the West Coast. More than 75 years later this dark chapter illuminates new challenges brought on by fear mongering and racism at the highest levels of the U.S. government as seen in today’s state-sanctioned anti-immigrant fervor and the Muslim Ban.

The exhibition’s venue at the Presidio of San Francisco holds deep significance because in 1942, the military proclamations and Civilian Eviction Orders leading to the mass removal and incarceration were issued from the Presidio-based Western Defense Command.


Then They Came for Me presents this historical event from multiple perspectives. Drawing upon the powerful images uncovered from the National Archives for the book Un-American: The Incarceration of Japanese Americans During World War II by Chicago-based photo historians Richard Cahan and Michael Williams, the exhibition features works documenting the eviction of Japanese Americans from their homes and their subsequent lives in the incarceration camps.


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Among the commissioned works, the exhibition also presents images of daily life in the camps by artists and inmates Toyo Miyatake and Miné Okubo. Also included are photographs by contemporary photographer Paul Kitagaki Jr., whose work on this subject was recently published in National Geographic.


Combined with additional artifacts made by incarcerees, historical documents, videos and a rich array of cultural, historical, curatorial and political programs the exhibition illuminates this historical event from several vantage points that includes the rise of state-sanctioned anti-Japanese sentiment in the late 19th century, conditions within the camps, the irreplaceable loss of many Japanese Americans’ homes and personal property, the resettlement process, and Japanese American postwar activism fueled by the experience of wartime incarceration.


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Then They Came for Me will host a robust series of programs including events featuring author Duncan Williams with the musician scholars No No Boy, Kambara + Dancers, and a discussion about tracking down the subjects of Dorothea Lange’s photographs with photo historians Richard Cahan and Michael Williams and Lange’s official biographer, Elizabeth Partridge.

Additional programming will include discussions on the current state of U.S. immigrant detention camps, the Muslim Ban and rise of Islamophobic hate crimes, film screenings, music, family activities and more.

Then They Came for Me travels from its second showing at The International Center of Photography in New York (2017-18) following its debut at Alphawood Gallery in Chicago (2017). The upcoming third iteration will offer a look at the incarceration specific to the West Coast.


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The exhibition is designed by Tomomi Itakura of i-k design, formerly the Director of Exhibition Design at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and the Senior Designer at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.


Then They Came for Me is presented by the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation and is curated in partnership with nationwide and Bay Area-based Japanese American communities.

When: January 18 - May 27, 2019
Public Reception: January 18, 2018, 7-9 p.m.
Visiting hours: Wednesday - Sunday, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Admission is free and open to the public


Where: 100 Montgomery Street
The Presidio, San Francisco
Home of Futures Without Violence

More Info: ThenTheyCame.org

 

About the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation
The Jonathan Logan Family Foundation supports organizations that advance social justice by promoting world-changing work in investigative journalism, documentary film, and arts and culture. This project is the latest in our efforts to shed light on the incarceration of Japanese Americans and its relevance today and has supported the book Un-American, Abby Ginzberg’s film And Then They Came for Us, Stop Repeating History and other related projects.

Exhibition Advisory Board:                            

Judy Appel, Melissa Ayumi Bailey, Richard Cahan, Brian Fong, Abby Ginzberg, Donna Graves, Anthony Hirschel, Satsuki Ina, Mindy Iwanaka, Paul Kitagaki Jr., Karen Korematsu, Debbie Lee, Jonathan Logan, Grace Morizawa,Max Nihei, Chizu Omori, Courtney Peagler, Jill Shiraki, Miya Sommers, Don Tamaki, Ann Tamaki-Dion, Rosalyn Tonai, Nancy Ukai, Alice Yang.

Content, images provided courtesy of exhibition; Art Direction by Janet Walker

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