Archive for August, 2017

Sumiteru Taniguchi

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

..August 2017.. ..Nagasaki..

Just got a message that Sumiteru Taniguchi has passed away.
Now I know why it’s been raining all day.
Almost 9 years to the day I photographed him.

“The war ended 64 years ago, but not for us. The victims have been suffering ever since and we don’t know it’s going to effect future generations.”
-Sumiteru Taniguchi, from my interview in September 2008

Mr. Sumiteru Taniguchi was the fourth atomic bomb bomb survivor (hibakusha) I photographed during my first trip to Nagasaki.

Taniguchi-san was the most distinguished and sophisticated person I have photographed. His demeanor was always honorable. His intelligent aura immediately filled the large board room we sat in.

Taniguchi-san’s story of survival was remarkable. His dedication to the Hibakusha cause and activism against nuclear weapons was unrelenting.

Taniguchi-san had the poise of a statesman. In Japan, Taniguchi-san was a major figure in the Hibakusha getting rights and compensation from the government. He was also vocal about his feelings toward other Hibakusha who failed to have their voices heard. He could not understand those who believed the government was doing enough for the Hibakusha.

I have a great deal of respect for Taniguchi-san’s opinion and courage. If it weren’t for his, and the efforts of other vocal Hibakusha, the government would be waiting for all the Hibakusha to pass away without memory. His strength to live is what made my experience unforgettable.

He was poised in front of the camera. You can see the his inner strength when you look at the eyes in his photos. Despite his fragile body, he was the strongest man ever to be in front of my camera.

Taniguichi-san was known as the Postman of Nagasaki. He was delivering the mail on the morning of August 9th, 1945. He started his route at 9AM. Air raid sirens went off a couple of times but no raids occurred.

At 10AM his bicycle tire punctured. He continued the route on foot. After finishing the route, he returned to the bicycle to fix the tire.

11AM he left Nishiura-Kami post office to deliver more mail. He heard planes in the distance. Moments later he was thrown off his bicycle while the ground shook.
“When I looked up, the house I just passed was destroyed. I saw a child blown away. Some small children who had been playing nearby had been blown away like dust.”

His bicycle was twisted, mail scattered on the ground. His first reaction was to pick up the letters. When he told this to me. It stuck in my memory.

He finds shelter 200 yards away in tunnel used to house munitions. He notices that the skin on his entire left arm is dripping off like a flimsy rag. The shirt on his back is literally burnt off. In the tunnel, some people cut the hanging skin off his arm.

10 minutes after the atomic bomb he tried to stand-up. But couldn’t move. They had to move to safer location because of the munitions.
“I tried to stand, but could not stand any more. I could not walk.”

A man then carried Taniguichi-san to a hill. People pass asking for water. They died quickly. Bodies piled as they fell over and died.

..Night of August 9th, 1945..
All of Nagasaki burnt that night. Flames made the Nagasaki night as bright as sunlight. House, factories, and the mountains in smoldered feverishly. People passed searching for family.

Around dawn it started to rain. He swallowed rain water accumulating on the tree leaves. At sunrise everyone lying around him had died. A rescue team arrived, he tried to ask for help but they thought he was dead. He didn’t have the strength to move or talk.

He was rescued 3 days later and taken to the Shinko Elementary School. Taniguchi-san remained bed ridden, lying on his stomach for 21 consecutive months.
“People at the hospital cheered when I was able to stand.”

Sumiteru Taniguchi January 26th, 1929- August 29th, 2017

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Fragile

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

Scan0059

Westerbork Camp

Monday, August 28th, 2017

Theresienstadt

Sunday, August 27th, 2017

Documents 531

Memorial to the Victims of Fascism, Potsdam, DDR

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017

Documents 681

Embrace

Monday, August 21st, 2017

..August 2017.. ..New Jersey..

Hanging a small selection of prints with Rose from my project “Embrace.” Embrace is an on-going project photographing transgender, intersex and gender non-binary people from across the world. To date, the project includes people from America, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Scotland and Japan.

Even though the project is still in it’s early stages this was an opportunity to show a few of the portraitsat the Ocean Heights Presbyterian Church in Egg Harbor Twp, New Jersey from August 20th-September 17th. And more importantly to have a discussion how people with gender identities outside of the traditional categories are not confined to one country, culture or age group. The project will not be complete for another year. With portraits scheduled in Europe and Japan, it will be an exciting autumn.

I look forward to eventually exhibiting every portrait which was taken in the project once it is complete.


Berlin Wall

Saturday, August 12th, 2017

..August 2010.. ..New York to Berlin..

On August 13th, 1961 Berliners returning home from a summer’s weekend found their city and lives cut in 2.

Berlin Wall

Friday, August 11th, 2017

..May 2010 Along the Spree River, Berlin..

Staring at the East side of the Berlin Wall with Western eyes.

East Side Gallery, Berlin. Murals are now painted on the East side of the Berlin Wall, where not long ago you couldn’t even get close enough to touch the wall without fatal consequences. This part of the wall is along the banks of the Spree.

First visit to hypocenter, Nagasaki

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

..Nagasaki September 7th,2008..
One hour after train ride, little before sunset. First time at the hypocenter

..I thought the hypocenter would have drawn more of a crowd. Only 2 ladies and a father playing with his son wandering across the spot where one of the world’s greatest atrocities took place. The grass was very thin and spotted yellow from a summer long soaking of intense sunshine. Looked like any park in a forgotten neighborhood.

..September 8th, 2007 Second time at the epicenter, Nagasaki..
Walked to the epicenter at 6:30AM. A Japanese man walking across the park. Stops and bows in front of the monument. A deep bow. A sign of great respect. Continues to his destination. I wonder if this is how he starts most of his days?

Documents 044


…by the river…6PM sunset, Hypocenter, Nagasaki

Monday, August 7th, 2017

..Nagasaki..

..Where I realized how to love people..By myself..by the river…6PM sunset 1 block from hypocenter..
..Where I realized why I traveled across the world to meet these people..Where I found emotion in Nagasaki..

..The first time I saw the reflection in the small stream running next to the epicenter, this was when the devastation hit me. It’s one of the most moving photos I took. Peaceful but remorseful.

..I first saw the reflection of the archway in the shallow water. As August 9th, 1945 grew older the pile of bodies multiplied in the canal. Eventually making a dam of corpses which stopped the running water. The corpses piled almost to the top of the 20 foot archway.

Along with the reflection of the archway, I can see the reflection of innocent that didn’t need to die. Why did this happen? It didn’t need to. This image has more of an effect on me than the epicenter. How can a scene so peaceful be a grave 64 years ago?

..Where I realized what happened. Where I realized war is fucking shit..that kills the innocent..

Documents 041

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