Memories often wash over us in waves, collections of fragments of color, sound, textures, moments.
Masumi Hayashi’s panoramic photo collages embody this sort of episodic remembrance. These vast landscapes record traces of human occupation, while each individual photograph reveals the shift of a cloud, the movement of grass, and the progress of time. Like Eadweard Muybridge’s early stop-action studies or Harold Edgerton’s milk drop and bullet-bursting balloons, these photographs suggest that there’s a larger dynamic story beyond what is obvious on the surface. Unlike those carefully contained studio explorations, Hayashi works at the scale of the North American West.
From 1990–2000, she photographed the War Relocation Authority camps where Japanese-Americans were incarcerated during World War II. The collages on the following pages are all from that series. Much of Hayashi’s work encourages viewers to consider places that we’d often rather forget: internment camps, abandoned prisons, Superfund sites.
She was born at the Gila River camp in Rivers, Arizona, in 1945.
She died in 2006, shot by a neighbor after asking him to turn his music down.
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