This series of photographic illustrations uses erasure, superimposition, and other manipulations to present alternative histories, geographies, and truths.
World War II-era photographs of Japanese citizens feature on American postage stamps. Commodore Matthew Perry’s signature obscures the faces in a portrait from his report on first contact with Japan, while the public bath image prudishly omitted from that same report features on the back of American currency. In a newsreel still, an American pilot calmly takes notes as the Pearl Harbor attack unfolds outside. Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un crew a sinking North Korean fishing boat, while photos of their hands—along with Shinzo Abe’s and Xi Jinping’s—form a 21st-century “Great Wave.”
German artist Jochen Gerz, for a public project in Coventry, which had been obliterated by the Germans decades earlier, asked participants, “Who are your past enemies? Who are your current friends?” Without Paul Tibbets grinning out of the window and his mother’s name painted below, the Enola Gay is just an airplane. Like mother and son, it too will return to the earth, and then—