Finding Sumiko
Conceptual Photography, Performance

Finding Sumiko contains a display of 15 photographs, texts, accompanied with artist’s performance. The photos and texts contain detailed journalistic investigation into the life of a Japanese singer who died in the Japanese Internment Camp Manzanar while Chen, the artist, is physically present briefing her investigation. As the presentation concludes, Chen reveals that the entire project is artificially constructed: Sumiko is a fictional character in a real history context.  

Finding Sumiko not only creates constructed images, but also build a system or framework in which “truthful” images are decontextualized to become false. The work reveals the easiness to fabricate history and other cultural narratives in the age of Internet. It produces a space for questions about how people’s perception of history takes shape and addresses the relationship between truth and false, representations and realities.

Wikipedia page of Sumiko Takei; The original page has been deleted but can be found at web archive here

Mr. Hirata showing photos and personal belongs of Sumiko

Portrait of Sumiko Takei, 1943. Photos by Ansell Adams

Sumiko’s band holding concert in Mazanar

Sumiko’s band playing in Manzanar Reloation Center

Mr. Hirata’s collection of newspaper, magazine pages and photographs

Mr. Hirata and Sumiko’s old Waikiki Record

Mr. Hirata showing the ukelele that Sumiko used to own

Former site of Sumiko’s home in Los Angeles. It was confiscated by government during the Internet

︎︎︎ Read About How I fabricated the story

︎︎︎ Read About reviews from the audience