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Born Free & Equal: The Story of Loyal _______-Americans
When donating his WWII photographs of interned Japanese-Americans to the Library of Congress in 1965, Ansel Adams wrote, “I think this Manzanar Collection is an important historical document and I trust it can be put to good use.” Responding to Adams’ prompt, Joseph Maida has reconstructed Adams’ catalog Born Free and Equal, which accompanied Adams’ 1944 MoMA exhibition curated by Nancy Newhall. In this new book, Maida incorporates Adams’ vintage negatives and prints while obscuring specific faces, names, ethnicities, and dates. This collaborative volume illuminates the past’s timely relationship to the present and punctuates the far-seeing power of Adams’ original documents.
Maida’s overlays and interventions onto the catalog’s original sequence amplify the prophetic nature of this historic story. It is both a sensitive reanimation of a still-resonant chapter in American history and a hard-hitting meditation upon photography’s complicity with its outplaying. — CHARLOTTE COTTON