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PHOTO SYNTHESIS

#3.4.04--Don Becker's Garage & Guesthouse (2004) Independence, California N36 degrees 48.229' W118 degrees 11.620'

March 11, 2007|Colin Westerbeck

Andrew Freeman's book "[Manzanar] Architecture Double" was published in 2006.

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Last week, I wrote about a 1920s picture of a lynching from which photographer Ken Gonzales-Day had digitally removed the victims, to indicate how such atrocities have been erased from our history. The photograph above is from another project that deals with historical erasure, one that occurred when almost all buildings were removed from the Manzanar internment camp after World War II.

Andrew Freeman tracked down and photographed scores of these structures, which the government first sold for $333.13 each to veterans, and then to anyone who would cart them away. The purpose was to clear the site, and the historical slate, of the imprisonment of Japanese Americans that Manzanar represented. Don Becker is proud of how he's upgraded these two examples, relocated to the property long before he bought it. He's also pleased by the link they now provide between his home and a national historic site.

You can't blame him for the bitter irony the internees and their descendants might find in his embrace of their history. Nor was it Freeman's purpose to find fault with the current owners. He only wanted to connect the historical dots. The pretty picture he made of Becker's yard reflects Freeman's desire to show the buildings as they're valued now. In America, one man's misery has often been turned into another man's luxury.

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