This Book Talk is moderated by Maymanah Farhat.
Miné Okubo’s Citizen 13660 (1946) is a graphic memoir containing a selection of the 2,000 drawings that she created while seeking to document her experiences at Topaz concentration camp in Utah during World War II. Incarcerated with other Japanese Americans under the Federal government’s Executive Order 9066, Okubo relied on her skills as an accomplished painter and illustrator to describe and record the misery and traumatic sense of upheaval and isolation that resulted from the callous wartime policy.
In this book talk with art historian Maymanah Farhat Okubo’s own statements about the intent of Citizen 13660 and several key pages will be examined. This material will be presented alongside the works of other incarcerated artists and writers who used self-publishing and additional forms of printing and drawing to ensure that life in the camps would not be ignored. Revisiting this chapter in American history reminds us of the urgency of book arts, and will serve as the starting point for a larger conversation about art and social justice.
Maymanah Farhat is a New York based art historian who has written widely on twentieth and twenty-first century art, and whose essays and features have been included in edited volumes, artist monographs, and museum and gallery catalogs. She has also contributed to publications such as Art Journal, Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, Callaloo: A Journal of African Diaspora Arts and Letters, Vogue Arabia, Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, Art + Auction, and Apollo.
Farhat has curated exhibitions throughout the U.S. and abroad, notably at the Arab American National Museum, Virginia Commonwealth University Gallery in Doha, Qatar, Art Dubai, and Beirut Exhibition Center. In 2014, she was included among Foreign Policy’s annual list of 100 Leading Global Thinkers in recognition of her scholarship on Syrian art after the uprising.