Born Free, Born Equal
Published by: Convoke
184 Pages, 8.25 x 10.70 x 0.50 in, Photographic Collages
- Published: September 2023
For this new edition of Joseph Maida’s ongoing collaboration with Ansel Adams’ Manzanar archive, Maida pairs his first Act, the 2018 edition of his book Born Free and Equal: The Story of Loyal _______________- Americans, with his second Act, Printed Media x Printed Justice: Exhibition-in-a-Box, an adaptable, modular, DIY exhibition of political posters in a box, from 2020, which he gifted as a call to action to institutions with a longstanding commitment to Adams’ work including the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Six months after the publication of Maida’s first edition of Born Free and Equal: The Story of Loyal _______________- Americans, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor penned her dissent in the case Trump v. Hawaii, which restricted travel into the United States by people from several nations, or by refugees without valid travel documents. She stated that the Court's 5-4 ruling “redeploys the same dangerous logic underlying Korematsu [v. United States, 1944, upholding the exclusion of Japanese-Americans from the West Coast Military Area during World War II] and merely replaces one gravely wrong decision with another.” Sotomayor’s words echo the perspective of Maida’s 2018 monographic work from earlier that year, which also parallels recent immigration bans based on nationality to the experiences of Japanese-Americans in the United States during World War II, reiterating the value of revisiting Ansel Adams' most political project in the present.
In October 2020, on the eve of the U.S. Presidential election, Maida deployed political posters he created through the reworking of the pages of his first edition of this project by introducing political documents from all branches of the U.S. government. Maida mailed his posters directly to the institutions with a longstanding commitment to Adams’ work. Through this call to action, Maida extended his individual reconciliation of the history of the medium of photography to these museums and their own records and holdings.
With Born Free, Born Equal, Maida continues to illuminate the past’s timely relationship to the current social and political climate, highlighting the importance of revisiting historic art and archives with the knowledge and resources of today.
Maida's overlays and interventions onto the catalog's original sequence amplify the prophetic nature of this historic story. It is both a sensitive reanimation of a still-resonant chapter in American history and a hard-hitting meditation upon photography’s complicity with its outplaying. — CHARLOTTE COTTON
I grew up at the time of World War II. The irony was we were fighting a war against racism and yet by an Executive Order of President Roosevelt people who had done nothing wrong except they were of Japanese ancestry were interned in camps far from their homes. That was a dreadful mistake. – RUTH BADER GINSBERG