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Granada (Amache) Relocation Camp, Foundations, Prowers, Colorado © Masumi Hayashi. Panoramic photo collage with Fuji Crystal Archive prints, 1997. Size: 23" x 31"

Granada (Amache) Relocation Camp, Foundations, Prowers, Colorado © Masumi Hayashi. Panoramic photo collage with Fuji Crystal Archive prints, 1997. Size: 23" x 31"

Masumi Hayashi visited every permanent site of Japanese American internment; such was her dedication to its historical truth and visual legacy. I’d like to pay tribute to Hayashi’s artistic rigour, the project and above all her life.

Masumi Hayashi 1945 - 2006

Masumi Hayashi 1945 - 2006

This post is not only a celebration of meaningful photography but also of a life cut short in tragic circumstances.

Gila River Relocation Camp, Dog Grave, Gila River, Arizona © Masumi Hayashi. Panoramic photo collage with Fuji Crystal Archive prints, 1995. Size: 38" x 31"

Gila River Relocation Camp, Dog Grave, Gila River, Arizona © Masumi Hayashi. Panoramic photo collage with Fuji Crystal Archive prints, 1995. Size: 38" x 31"

Prison Photography has needed to limit itself in discussion, so rich and extensive was Hayashi’s oeuvre. I recommend that you spend a long time meditating her Prison series, Salt Mine series and a spectacular EPA Superfund Sites series.

Let us focus, for now, on the issue at hand – Japanese American Internment.

Professor Hayashi photographed all 10 internment camps on American soil. She also documented the 4 Canadian internment sites. It was a subject close to her heart — she was born at the Gila River Relocation camp in Arizona in 1945.

In most cases, Hayashi photographed a full 360 degrees. The gradient of exposure in her photo montages and her extruded viewpoint lent visual richness, height and vertigo to otherwise mundane landscapes. Hayashi’s indelible presence in the works is a reminder of the former human presence in inhumane environments.

Gila River Relocation Camp, Monument, Gila River, Arizona © Masumi Hayashi. Panoramic photo collage with Fuji Crystal Archive prints, 1995. Size: 31" x 75"

Gila River Relocation Camp, Monument, Gila River, Arizona © Masumi Hayashi. Panoramic photo collage with Fuji Crystal Archive prints, 1995. Size: 31" x 75"

Gila River Relocation Camp, Foundations, Gila River, Arizona © Masumi Hayashi. Panoramic photo collage with Fuji Crystal Archive prints, 1990. Size: 22" x 56"

Gila River Relocation Camp, Foundations, Gila River, Arizona © Masumi Hayashi. Panoramic photo collage with Fuji Crystal Archive prints, 1990. Size: 22" x 56"

Topaz Relocation Camp, Foundations, Delta, Utah © Masumi Hayashi. Panoramic photo collage with Fuji Crystal Archive prints, 1995. Size: 31" x 72"

Topaz Relocation Camp, Foundations, Delta, Utah © Masumi Hayashi. Panoramic photo collage with Fuji Crystal Archive prints, 1995. Size: 31" x 72"

Hayashi’s composite tactic solves the problematic banality of many of the sites. She describes here and here that many of the sites as barren and sun bleached (Manzanar, CA has been well-preserved as a memorial and state park, but it is the exception). The most common denominator among the sites was the concrete sewage system. The large peripheral tanks always remained long after the sheds and tended plots had decayed. A brick structure was a treat, and wooden barns, anomalies.

Minidoka Relocation Camp, Visitors Waiting Room, Minidoka, Idaho © Masumi Hayashi. Panoramic photo collage with Fuji Crystal Archive prints, 1992. Size: 27" x 70"

Minidoka Relocation Camp, Visitors Waiting Room, Minidoka, Idaho © Masumi Hayashi. Panoramic photo collage with Fuji Crystal Archive prints, 1992. Size: 27" x 70"

Heart Mountain Relocation Camp, Blue Room, Park, Wyoming © Masumi Hayashi. Panoramic photo collage with Fuji Crystal Archive prints, 1995. Size: 23" x 45"

Heart Mountain Relocation Camp, Blue Room, Park, Wyoming © Masumi Hayashi. Panoramic photo collage with Fuji Crystal Archive prints, 1995. Size: 23" x 45"

Heart Mountain Relocation Camp, Interior, Park, Wyoming © Masumi Hayashi. Panoramic photo collage with Fuji Crystal Archive prints, 1995. Size: 31" x 42"

Heart Mountain Relocation Camp, Interior, Park, Wyoming © Masumi Hayashi. Panoramic photo collage with Fuji Crystal Archive prints, 1995. Size: 31" x 42"

Hayashi’s endeavours cannot be underestimated. As Candida Hofer noted;

If you consider that each individual photograph has four sides (trust me) then multiply by two decisions for each side—where to cut the edge, where to place in relation to the adjacent photo—that’s eight decisions right there. Then multiply that by say 45 photos (the number in ‘Jain Temple’ for example). That’s 360 decisions! When was the last time you did anything that required 360 of anything?

and

For those of you sitting there thinking, “Oh, yeah, I could take a bunch of little pictures of something too.” No, you couldn’t. Not like this. Her style is built on solid conventional photographic methods (each picture must itself be a very good picture).

Extraordinary.

Heart Mountain Relocation Camp, Hospital, Park, Wyoming © Masumi Hayashi. Panoramic photo collage with Fuji Crystal Archive prints, 1995. Size: 32" x 70"

Heart Mountain Relocation Camp, Hospital, Park, Wyoming © Masumi Hayashi. Panoramic photo collage with Fuji Crystal Archive prints, 1995. Size: 32" x 70"

Manzanar Relocation Camp, Tree View, Inyo, California © Masumi Hayashi. Panoramic photo collage withFuji Crystal Archive prints, 1995. Size: 27" x 63"

Manzanar Relocation Camp, Tree View, Inyo, California © Masumi Hayashi. Panoramic photo collage withFuji Crystal Archive prints, 1995. Size: 27" x 63"

Manzanar Relocation Camp, Monument (Version 1), Inyo, California © Masumi Hayashi. Panoramic photo collage with Fuji Crystal Archive prints, 1995. Size: 20" x 30"

Manzanar Relocation Camp, Monument (Version 1), Inyo, California © Masumi Hayashi. Panoramic photo collage with Fuji Crystal Archive prints, 1995. Size: 20" x 30"

In addition to her photographic work, Hayashi conducted audio interviews of former internees to develop a complete sense of experience across the American internment archipelago.

Manzanar Relocation Camp, Guard Gates, Inyo, California © Masumi Hayashi. Panoramic photo collage with Fuji Crystal Archive prints, 1992. Size: 27" x 65"

Manzanar Relocation Camp, Guard Gates, Inyo, California © Masumi Hayashi. Panoramic photo collage with Fuji Crystal Archive prints, 1992. Size: 27" x 65"

Granada (Amache) Relocation Camp, Water Tank, Prowers, Colorado © Masumi Hayashi. Panoramic photo collage with Fuji Crystal Archive prints, 1997. Size: 23" x 31"

Granada (Amache) Relocation Camp, Water Tank, Prowers, Colorado © Masumi Hayashi. Panoramic photo collage with Fuji Crystal Archive prints, 1997. Size: 23" x 31"

Jerome Relocation Camp, Farm, Drew & Chicot, Arkansas © Masumi Hayashi. Panoramic photo collage with Fuji Crystal Archive prints, 1995. Size: 22" x 59"

Jerome Relocation Camp, Farm, Drew & Chicot, Arkansas © Masumi Hayashi. Panoramic photo collage with Fuji Crystal Archive prints, 1995. Size: 22" x 59"

In August 2006, Hayashi along with her neighbour John Jackson, knocked at the door of the apartment of another neighbour Jacob Cifelli to complain oncemore about his high volume music. It was the last of many noise complaints. Cifelli shot them both to death in the stairwell.

The story has added tragedy as Hayashi had recently reunited with her biological daughter, Lisa Takata, after 39 years of estrangement. Hayashi gave Takata up for adoption within a few days after her birth in the midst of the Watts Riots in 1965.

Photographer, artist and fellow Cleveland resident, Norm Roulet summed up the loss of Hayashi;

I am saddened and horrified to now recognize Masumi Hayashi as the finest photographer and one of the greatest artists Northeast Ohio has ever know, as she was murdered last night in her studio. All local arts lovers and artists certainly knew Masumi and her remarkable work, and of the great value she brought to CSU as a professor there. Her loss to Northeast Ohio as an arts community cannot be overstated. Now, every time I paste together my collages I’ll think of Masumi in fond remembrance. Rest in peace, Masumi Hayashi – I apologize to you for the insanity that is Cleveland today.

Rest in peace, indeed.

Jerome Relocation Camp, Sewer, Drew & Chicot, Arkansas © Masumi Hayashi. Panoramic photo collage with Fuji Crystal Archive prints, 1995. Size: 23" x 55"

Jerome Relocation Camp, Sewer, Drew & Chicot, Arkansas © Masumi Hayashi. Panoramic photo collage with Fuji Crystal Archive prints, 1995. Size: 23" x 55"

Tule Lake Relocation Camp, Sewer, Tulelake, California © Masumi Hayashi. Panoramic photo collage with Fuji Crystal Archive prints, 1996. Size: 32" x 59"

Tule Lake Relocation Camp, Sewer, Tulelake, California © Masumi Hayashi. Panoramic photo collage with Fuji Crystal Archive prints, 1996. Size: 32" x 59"

Poston lll Relocation Camp, Sewer, Yuma, Arizona © Masumi Hayashi. Panoramic photo collage with Fuji Crystal Archive prints, 1997. Size: 26" x 63"

Poston lll Relocation Camp, Sewer, Yuma, Arizona © Masumi Hayashi. Panoramic photo collage with Fuji Crystal Archive prints, 1997. Size: 26" x 63"

Masumi Hayashi’s work has been exhibited in internationally respected museums and galleries, including the International Center for Photography in New York, the L.A. County Art Museum, the Japanese American National Museum (L.A.), the Tokyo Museum of Photography, the Ludwig Museum of Art in Germany, and the Victoria and Albert Museum of Photography in London, England. In 2003, she had a retrospective one-person exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. Professor Hayashi taught photography for 24 years at Cleveland State University, Ohio.

Gallery with pop-out full size images

Thanks to Matt Kelley at Criminal Justice Change.org for alerting me to Hayashi’s work.

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© 2009 Jerome Brunet Photography. All rights reserved.

© 2009 Jerome Brunet Photography. All rights reserved.

Jérôme Brunet‘s photo essay Riding Shotgun with Texas Sheriff’s is a ferocious document of police activity and procedure in America’s ‘love-to-hate’ lone star state. I am in deep admiration of this project for it connects the dots and marries everything in a police officer’s routine from violent confrontation to mundane paperwork.

Brunet spent six months with Texas Sheriffs and the stark quality of his work demonstrates that.

Brunet’s work inevitably features sites of incarceration, but I contend viewers are more shocked Brunet’s depictions of inhumanity on the highways (and front yards) than they are of inhumanity within the confines of state institutions.

Prison Photography Blog embraces complexity and unanswerable questions and Brunet poses many. Prisons and jails are not isolated from society but a point of destination and departure throughout the cyclical mechanisms of state authority. It is right to feature a project that merges the chaotic unknowns (crime scenes) and prevailing controls (sites of incarceration) of police activity.

Brunet explains:

When asked why I’m interested in law enforcement, I’m compelled to reply, “We all should be.” The fact that we know so incredibly little about our ‘boys in blue’ all though we see them on our street corners and of course in more dramatized versions on television and in Hollywood, I’ve always been interested in the symbolic aspect of the modern day police officer; the man with the badge, gun and authority to dramatically change a persons life forever. Societies apparent answer to all life’s little and not so little problems. However bleak and insignificant a situation may seem, officers are constantly dealing with lost children, family quarrels, various assemblies of homeless and confronting each day, the violence and corruption humanity inflicts on each other everyday.

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© 2009 Jerome Brunet Photography. All rights reserved.

Much of the Sheriff’s department’s work is devoted to tackling drug-smuggling and again Brunet comments with incredible even-handedness

Roads linking Mexico to the U.S., such as the I-10, are sensitive arteries of a flourishing contraband. Even though another deputy in a deep sigh, admitted to me catching only ten percent of the actual traffic, a task force made up of U.S. Customs, D.E.A., Texas and New Mexico police have seized over 30 kilos of heroin, 2 tons of cocaine and 75 tons of marijuana. Even though these quantities sound enormous, actually landing on a large bust was a different story, only luck and perseverance enabled me to land on what was to be one of US’s largest single drug bust in US’s history. As a nervous Mexican driver arrives at the U.S. border and a routine check is made on his car, officers reveal neatly packed away in the trunk, 23.3 pounds of black tar heroin, estimated at 24 million dollars. This package is later revealed to the local press in Hollywoodesque fashion. I watch in amazement and think of the outcome of this Mexican peasant paid 1000 dollars to transport this load into the land of the free.

As an editorial decision, I have not included Brunet’s images of the station or officers’ meetings, but they are as vital as the images from within the jail. The images inform one another.

Here are two desperate images from the station and I’d like to know the exact context. I shall not speculate, only present.

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© 2009 Jerome Brunet Photography. All rights reserved.

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© 2009 Jerome Brunet Photography. All rights reserved.

Brunet offers insights into El Paso County Jail:

Texas, the second largest state in the U.S. also boasts the highest rate of incarceration (700 for 100 000). In an ultramodern county jail of El Paso, Texas, I witnessed different aspects of “the inside world”. Body searches, finger printing and delousing before the anonymous inmate dons the regulation blue overalls inscribed E.P.C.D.F. (El Paso County Detention Facility). On the top floor is the outdoor gym, from which you can admire the end of the Rocky Mountains and the beginning of the Sierra Madre into Mexico. Caged like lions, 40 federal prisoners await transport to a large prison. I am placed alone with one guard in this cage. Surprisingly enough, like a ghost, I hover through the crowd unnoticed, my heart beating for what felt like an eternity. Prisoners can only be exposed to the natural light of the gymnasium a sparsely granted privilege of only three hours a week.

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© 2009 Jerome Brunet Photography. All rights reserved.

The photo essay even covers tactical training exercises.

An afternoon spent with the elite S.R.T. (Sheriff Reaction Team) proved to provide more excitement. This team made up of tough looking officers is specially trained to counter an unlikely riot in the prison. I was presented a billboard full of makeshift weapons made by previous inmates, everything from hand sharpened spikes, to knives made out of tooth brush handles with razor blades attached to their ends. All used for assassination purpose by gang members thriving too in the “inside world”.

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© 2009 Jerome Brunet Photography. All rights reserved.

Brunet has admiration for officers “just like you and me”, whose work is unpredictable and occasionally very dangerous.

We will find in the police officers, goodness, honesty, corruption and brutality. In many cases we are the police, and like it or not we are responsible of their actions as much as our own. The more we know about them, the more we observe and tie ourselves to them, and the more this society will feel secure. This realistic testimony succeeds in making us share a few privileged moments into the life of these Texas and New Mexico cops as well as revealing the true backdrop of American culture.

Unlike other reportages of state authority, Brunet is keen to impress the absence of racial inequalities of power.

The majority of the men and women I interacted with were primarily Hispanic. Because of their ancestry they were able to bring forth a much appreciated warmth and understanding that I and, I’m sure, the rest of the townspeople, who were also Hispanic, enjoyed and accepted openly.

_________________________________________

Jérôme Brunet is a freelance photojournalist Jérôme Brunet was born in southern France and raised in London, Ontario (Canada). After obtaining his O.S.S.D. majoring in visual arts, he started his post secondary education in Paris, France, at the E.F.E.T. School of Photography, graduating in 1997. Jérôme Brunet has been published internationally through such diverse publications as Rolling Stone Magazine, Forbes and The New York Times. His client list includes The Discovery Channel, Fender Musical Instruments, Nikon Imaging Inc. and is currently featured on the official websites of musicians Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana and James Brown. Jérôme Brunet is currently working and residing in the Bay Area of San Francisco and is represented internationally by the Zuma Press agency.

Jérôme Brunet also takes portait pictures of musicians here and here.

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