Above ––
49°16′00″N 121°14′00″W. The author’s mother in Tashme Internment Camp, near present-day Hope in the Canadian province of British Columbia.
Photographer: Jack Yoshinori Matsui, 1945.

US Pavilion
Biennale Architettura 2018
Venice IT

From the US Pavilion’s curatorial team:

“The images and short texts in the series Form N-X00: New Forms for Citizenship respond to contemporary understandings of citizenship. Revisiting the bureaucratic application for naturalization to the US, Form N-600, this series asks an international group of architects, designers, writers, artists, and thinkers to contribute their thoughts on how inclusion and exclusion are spatially constructed. By interrogating, speculating, and reflecting on different scales of belonging, this growing collection provokes and expands our current understanding of citizenship.”

Do you remember when this photograph was taken?
“I think I was about one, or so. My brother Jack took it, I think. Him or one of his friends.”
Do you remember anything of Tashme?
–in conversation with Sharon Makoto Matsui Hunchuck
(b. Tashme, 1944– )

The summer sun is bright and high in the sky over this young Canadian girl as she explores the vegetative world of western Canada. Her left arm reaches out, tentatively, to balance as she navigates between stalks of the towering, gigantic flora. Clutched tightly in her right hand, her treasures of the day—a small handful of flowers gathered from the undergrowth.

At the time this photograph was taken, sometime in the summer of 1945, this girl’s experience of the world was limited to the confines of the Tashme Internment Camp, near present-day Hope in the province of British Columbia. Located in the Cascade Mountains—just outside of the 160 kilometer quarantine zone that ran along the coast of Canada from which all Japanese Canadians were removed—the self-contained camp housed Canadian citizens of Japanese descent in around 350 shacks.

One of eight Japanese Canadian internment camps, the population of Tashme peaked at 2644 in January of 1943. It declined steadily as people were transferred to other camps or deported back to Japan. Tashme closed in September 1946, and the Matsui family—who like all Japanese Canadians were given the choice to move east of the Rocky Mountains or to be “repatriated” back to Japan—chose to stay in Canada, moving east to Toronto.

Sharon Makoto Matsui Hunchuck never returned to British Columbia. She currently lives in Toronto.