Artists Books
Penny Nii, the waR we were
Penny Nii, the waR we were
Penny Nii, the waR we were
Penny Nii, the waR we were
Penny Nii, the waR we were

Altered books are published books, old or new, modified by creative means into works of art. The waR we were is an altered book. The foundation is a Japanese children’s book titled Full of Happinesswritten by Toshihiko Shinzawa, illustrated by Taeko Ōshima, and published by Hikari-no-Kuni in April 2006.

Two copies of the book were disassembled and reconstructed into one accordion book. The illustration are overlaid with photo-montages of friends and family members who lived through World War II, juxtaposed with collected photographs of the effects of war on children.  Photographs were manipulated in Photoshop, printed, and pasted onto pages of the book.

I grew up in Tokyo during World War II and its aftermath. I remember my childhood as a happy one. My friends and I played and laughed, played and fought, played and cried. We all knew hunger. We knew sickness and injuries without cure. We knew apprehensions without knowing the cause. We watched white beams of searchlights and bright flares of burning cities as if watching mid-summer fireworks festivals on Sumida River, but perhaps not so happily. Within the world unleashed by adults, we were children doing what children do.

Front Cover
“Fat man” atomic bomb
Left to right: Chuck, Bill, Ute, Nori, Ed, Penny

Back Cover
Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Memorial Dome
Mushroom cloud from an atomic bomb explosion at Bikini Atoll

Title Page
Clockwise from top left: Chuck, Nori, Bill, Penny, Fumi, Ute, Ed

Clockwise from top left: Ute, Kei, Motomu, Penny, Jim, Bill, Chuck, Ed, Elaine

Clockwise from top left: Fumi, Eiji, Atsuko, Paul, Motomu, Nori, Jim, Ute, Penny

Images of family and friends as children during the World War II together with images of the destruction and effects on children in Europe and Japan.

Altered book. Two codex books converted to an accordion book.

Copies of photos are pasted on the pages.


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Penny Nii, Decode Me