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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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Two stories from the British press this week mimicking to two pressing issues of the American justice system – care provision for mentally ill prison populations & exoneration after wrongful conviction.

First off. As the Beeb reports, The Lord Bradley Report has recommended moving mentally ill inmates out of prisons and into alternative care environments. That’s a significant victory for prison mental health reformers, and for the UK public.

The impressive thing Bradley’s report is that he ties the shortcomings of the prison system to provide appropriate mental-health care to wider problematic practices of policing; highlighting in particular the relatively new anti-social behaviour (ASBO) as inflexible and routinely applied. From the BBC,

It is expected to highlight how ASBO and penalty notices can accelerate the treatment of mentally ill people as criminals. Some estimates suggest 70% of inmates have two or more mental disorders

and

In February, Ministry of Justice (MoJ) figures revealed that a record 3,906 offenders with mental disorders were being held in secure hospitals in England and Wales at the end of 2007.

'I miss the prison crowds' ... Sean Hodgson. Photograph: David Levene/Guardian

'I miss the prison crowds' ... Sean Hodgson. Photograph: David Levene/Guardian

Secondly, The Guardian ran Sean Hodgson’s story about time served on a 27 year wrongful conviction. It also covered the first three days following release and the circumstances of Hodgson and reporter, Aina Edemariam, meeting. Edemariam picked Hodgson up off the street after he’d been clipped by the wing mirror of a passing taxi.

Sean Hodgson has been dealt a shitty hand. He suffers from a long list of serious health problems, his money has run out so he survives on coffee. He is lonely. On a ‘couple of times he has felt so depressed he has called a crisis line. But it was busy, he says. “So I just went to bed.”‘ He has also been stalked by a tabloid photographer.

In the US, The Innocence Project has led the way using DNA evidence to overturn wrongful convictions. I think Britain lawyers’ eyes were opened by the Innocence Project’s legal endeavours. The UK has been slower in it’s use of DNA testing for old cases. Sean Hodgson has served the second longest term for a wrongful conviction in the history of British law. And after doing that time? Well it was an abrupt transition:

Lifers who admit guilt go through a few years of preparation for their release: they are given parole, are able to work outside the prison, to put housing and income in place; they can retreat to the prison whenever the outside world gets too overwhelming. Those who have never admitted their guilt very rarely get parole, and thus receive none of this. So Hodgson was taken immediately to the housing and benefits offices – where it transpired that someone had stolen his identity and he no longer had a national insurance (social security) number, meaning that officially he did not exist. His MP had to intervene to sort that out.

With his brother he had his first pint and cigarette as a free man. Although they had spoken twice a week throughout his incarceration they hadn’t actually seen each other for over 10 years, because, he says, his brother couldn’t afford to travel to the prison. After their drink, his brother went back to his hotel, and the next morning, home, to work a night shift. And then Hodgson was on his own.

And then in some final insult, Hodgson’s compensation from the government, which will take at least a year and for which he must apply!, will pan out like this:

Then, when compensation is finally paid out, the government, unbelievably, docks room and board, or “saved living expenses” calculated on the basis of what a frugal person might have spent on their own upkeep if they were free. “As if you voluntarily popped into the local prison,” says Young, contemptuously. “Yes, it would have cost them something to live – but you’ve taken their liberty. If you can afford £50bn to bail out a bank you can afford to compensate someone for 27 years in prison.” McManus estimates that Hodgson will pay a minimum of £100,000 for the privilege. The appeal was paid for by legal aid, but it does not cover the process of applying for compensation. And so Hodgson will have to pay legal fees too.

______________________________________________________

I know it’s quote heavy. I tried to reduce the articles down to their essentials.

David Levene’s photographic work for the Guardian

Permanent for Sean Hodgson article, ‘Freedom? It’s lonely’

Continued Guardian coverage of Sean Hodgson

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