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Panelists: Erin Barnett, Adam Harrison Levy, Greg Mitchell

What can a suitcase, found in a pile of trash, tell us about Hiroshima and its legacy?

The suitcase was found eleven years ago by a man out walking his dog in Watertown, Massachusetts. Inside were 700 photographs of post-bomb Hiroshima. The images depict an annihilated city: twisted girders, imploded buildings, miles of rubble. This was the original Ground Zero, a term first used in 1946 to describe the epicenter of the blast.

Since then, accounts by survivors of the bombing have been published, documentaries have been produced, and historians have fiercely debated the decision to drop the bomb.

And yet, the photographic record of what took place in Hiroshima has long been absent. A U.S. military film crew, which shot the only color footage in the city (and focused on the human effects of the bomb), found that their images would be suppressed for decades. Our lack of visual evidence of the atom bomb's effect has helped us to deny its devastating impact. Think of photographs of Auschwitz after it was liberated and a series of powerful images come to mind: haunting pictures of war's destructive impact. But think of Hiroshima and what comes to mind is the mushroom cloud. Terrifying in its way, with its bulbous head and towering stem, it is nonetheless an abstract image freed of human agency and human consequence.

Join us for a discussion on how the ground-breaking images that make up the Hiroshima: Ground Zero 1945 exhibition at ICP were discovered and how the moving footage shot in post-bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki was censored by the U.S. government. Panelists include Greg Mitchell, the author of Atomic Cover-Up: Two U.S. Soldiers, Hiroshima & Nagasaki, and The Greatest Movie Never Made (2011) and co-author (with Robert Jay Lifton) of Hiroshima in America: Fifty Years of Denial (1995), Assistant Curator of Collections Erin Barrett, and writer and freelance documentary film producer and director Adam Harrison Levy.

Erin Barnett is the Assistant Curator of Collections at the International Center of Photography. She has organized Hiroshima: Ground Zero 1945 (and edited the accompanying catalogue with Philomena Mariani), Take Me to the Water: Photographs of River Baptisms, Munkacsi's Lost Archive, and Amelia Earhart: Image and Icon (with Kristen Lubben) and contributed research to numerous ICP exhibition catalogues.

Adam Harrison Levy is a writer and freelance documentary film producer and director. He has worked on a wide range of historical and arts films, primarily for the BBC. He was the U.S. producer for Selling the Sixties, a cultural history of the world of advertising in the early 1960s, and he has produced and directed interviews with actors, writers, musicians, and filmmakers for both the BBC and Channel 4. His writing has appeared in The Guardian and he is a contributing writer for the online Design Observer.

Greg Mitchell writes the Media Fix blog for His latest book, Atomic Cover-Up: Two U.S. Soldiers, Hiroshima & Nagasaki, and The Greatest Movie Never Made, has just been released. He is the co-author (with Robert Jay Lifton) of Hiroshima in America: Fifty Years of Denial (1995). A new edition of his book The Campaign of the Century: Upton Sinclair's Race for Governor of California and the Birth of Media Politics, winner of the Goldsmith Book Prize, was published in 2010.

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