I only knew Dorothea Lange's work from her famous Migrant Mother photograph part of her visual cataloguing of the Great Depression. The Barbican's exhibition of Dorothea Lange and Vanessa Winship also featured Lange's photography of the internment of Japanese Americans during the Second World War, a shameful piece of history I sadly knew little about until I listened to an episode of 99% Invisible on the Manzanar Camp. The inhumanity and racism of President Roosevelt's Executive Order 9066 are laid bare in Lange's documentation and seeing faces that look like mine imprisoned for no other reason than their ancestry hit home in a way that I was not expecting.
Her photos track the whole process, from the expulsions to the camps themselves. There's a shot of Japanese American children paying allegiance to the flag before they were summarily imprisoned; suave college students smiling before being transported; an elderly Japanese woman holding her single case, her whole world in a bag. Dorothea Lange's photographs burn hot with their humanity and beauty. This 1942 photo shows a Japanese American business that was forcibly abandoned, the owner's sign hanging out front reads "I Am An American". Seeing and understanding the pain of that image was upsetting and exceptionally moving. These images have horribly renewed resonance with what's happening in America again and around the world.