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"Hiroshima: Ground Zero 1945," at ICP

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Erin Barnett, ICP Assistant Curator of Collections, and Adam Harrison Levy, talk about the International Center of Photography’s “Hiroshima: Ground Zero 1945,” an exhibition of once-classified images of atomic destruction at Hiroshima, drawn from ICP’s permanent collection. This exhibition includes approximately 60 contact prints and photographs made for the 1947 United States Strategic Bombing Survey (USSBS) report on the effects of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945. “Hiroshima: Ground Zero 1945” is on view at ICP through August 28.

International Center of Photography
[Charred boy's jacket found near Hiroshima City Hall], November 5, 1945.

United States Strategic Bombing Survey, Physical Damage Division

Gelatin silver contact print

International Center of Photography
[Ruins of Chugoku Coal Distribution Company or Hiroshima Gas Company], November 8, 1945.

United States Strategic Bombing Survey, Physical Damage Division

Gelatin silver contact print

International Center of Photography
[Interior of Hiroshima City Hall auditorium with undamaged walls and framing but spalling of plaster and complete destruction of contents by fire], November 1, 1945.

United States Strategic Bombing Survey, Physical Damage Division

Gelatin silver contact print

International Center of Photography
[Buckle of north wall of wing number one of Funairi Grammar School, Hiroshima], November 20, 1945.

United States Strategic Bombing Survey, Physical Damage Division

Gelatin silver contact print

International Center of Photography
[Steel stairs warped by intense heat from burned book stacks of Asano Library, Hiroshima], November 15, 1945.

United States Strategic Bombing Survey, Physical Damage Division

Gelatin silver contact print

International Center of Photography
[Complete destruction of wooden floor and telephone switch and relay racks of Hiroshima Telephone Company, Central District Exchange], October 28, 1945.

United States Strategic Bombing Survey, Physical Damage Division

Gelatin silver contact print

Guests:

Erin Barnett and Adam Harrison Levy

Comments [6]

Erin Barnett from Manhattan

Inquisigal,

All the photographs in the exhibition are vintage; the majority are contact prints made from the original 4 x 5 negatives, which are housed at the National Archives. ICP did not retouch any of the vintage prints.

Aug. 01 2011 12:59 PM
Adam Harrison Levy from Manhattan

Amy,

Galbraith was in Japan as a member of the United States Strategic Bombing Survey.
He writes about his experiences in his memoir "A Life in Our Times". See Chapter 15.

Jul. 28 2011 03:43 PM
Inquisigal from Brooklyn

Can you ask your guests if these are the original prints, and if so, what was done to them, if anything to clean them up? Or are they new prints made from negatives?

Jul. 28 2011 01:01 PM

There is no rationally pretending that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were elements in a calculated effort to assess the A-bomb's impact.

Those who continue to defend the bombing are clearly motivated by a determination to preserve the image of the United States as "Always Right", "the world's only indispensable nation", etc.

All the evidence of the time points to deep threads of racism, revenge, cruelty in the decision to use the bomb. This includes the statements of Truman and leading military and political figures. This also emerges clearly in the statements of those who were _critical_ of the bomb's use, including General MacArthur.

Jul. 28 2011 01:01 PM
Amy from Manhattan

The reinforced building materials might survive better structurally, but they'd still be penetrated by radiation, wouldn't they?

And in what capacity was John Kenneth Galbraith there after the bombing?

Jul. 28 2011 12:59 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

I knew a Japanese guy who was born just days before the bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. His home was on the other side of the hills.

Jul. 28 2011 12:56 PM

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