Survivor: My Father’s Ghosts at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust

Survivor: My Father’s Ghosts-Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust

Survivor: My Father’s Ghosts is on view until  August 20, 2018 at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust. Please come visit the museum at the Grove and see what the museum is going to further Holocaust education.

http://www.lamoth.org/exhibitions/temporary-exhibits/survivor-my-fathers-ghosts–a-/

© hannah kozak

Entrance to Dachau – May 2017

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Self Portrait – Dachau May 2017

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Majdanek Concentration Camp – Lublin, Poland May 2015

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Chelmno Extermination Camp – Chelmno nad Nerem, Poland.

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Sobibór – The Road to Heaven that the Jews were made to walk to the gas chambers.

Survivor: My Father’s Ghosts-Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust

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Michael Jackson’s Love continues 9 Years Later

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Queenie – Hong Kong banner

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One Rose for MJ

June 25, 2009 – I was a stuntwoman hired to work on Iron Man 2. As I drove on the 101 Freeway in the late afternoon, heading to the location in downtown Los Angeles, I couldn’t stop thinking about Michael and wrap my head around the fact that he was gone.  The news of his death had been announced only a few hours prior, and a part of me refused to believe it. When I met the stunt coordinator, I casually mentioned it, not wanting to seem like a fanatic.  Boy, how I would let go of that need years later.  The scene called for three stuntwomen to be running away from gigantic robots. One of the stuntmen landed on me and, as I would find out days later, broke a few of my ribs. I couldn’t breathe but I got up and did the shot again.  For some reason, getting hurt always made me go inside and ponder.

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Angel of Light card “Smile” – Michael’s favorite song

After researching, writing, blogging and sharing my photos with Michael Jackson fans around the world for nine years, I grew to not care what people thought about my “obsession” with Michael. Actually, I began to believe that if you tell me what you think about Michael, I will tell you who you are.  Thus, began my search for the truth about who Michael Jackson was.

This year, like annual clockwork, the media has begun the totally baseless smear stories one month before the anniversary of Michael’s passing.  The medialoid  (mainstream media infected by tabloid journalism) loves to feed a constant diet of trash and lies about Michael. And his fans begin to defend him, as always, standing firmly for the truth and defending his legacy.  I look forward to the day when Michael’s volunteer work for children trends instead of the lies.  In the meantime, I continue my work on the anniversary of his passing to remind the world who he was, an innocent humanitarian.

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King of Pop – from Romania

Why did the media begin a witch hunt against Michael as soon as he started breaking every musical record? First of all, Michael was the archetypal misunderstood artist, committed to his art and his creative vision even though he was being judged.

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Banner from Queenie, Jessica and May – Hong Kong

Did you know that Michael Jackson was personally responsible for cutting the number of starving people on this planet in half back in the 1990’s? The media didn’t report that.

Michael Jackson was the personification of love.  What do we do with someone whose heart is that big?

Tall Poppy Syndrome is “a social phenomenon in which people of genuine merit are resented, attacked, cut down or criticized because their talents or achievements elevate them above or distinguish them from their peers.” That is what happened to Michael Jackson the moment he started to break every music record ever made. A simple walk through Twitter for example, will  show example after example of people who never even knew him or read anything valuable about him trashing him. Hence, my belief of “tell me what you think of Michael Jackson and I will tell you who you are”. Are you judgmental? Accepting of someone who did not fit in any of the neat little boxes that society loves to place on people? Do you see his giant, loving heart that gave to strangers and visited sick and dying children before and after his concerts? A man who would donate millions of dollars from touring to various children’s causes? Is that what you see?  Or do you believe the lies that the media feeds you?

A Jewish proverb says, Do not be wise in words, be wise in deeds.Michael Jackson was wise in deeds.  Other-centered does not even come close to describing his character.  Listed in the 2000 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records for “Most Charities Supported by a Pop Star”, he supported 39 charities and gave away $500 million in his lifetime.  Even in his death his earnings are still going to charity, as specified in his will.

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Marcela – Argentina

As I walk around Forest Lawn Glendale, I focus on the love that I see for Michael Jackson and I feel my heart chakra stirring. I see handmade cards so intricate, delicate and beautiful that my heart is moved to tears. I have been in actual relationships and not had such cards made for me.

Here is Robyn Starkland who tirelessly organizes One Rose for Michael Jackson, year after year. This year, there are 8,047 roses purchased by fans around the globe. On June 26, the roses are donated to various charities around Los Angeles.

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Robyn Starkland – Organizer of One Rose for Michael Jackson

I met Sarah, who flew 5 hours to Auckland and 12 hours to Los Angeles, from South Australia. This was her first visit to Forest Lawn. She said when Michael died “I was overwhelmed with tears and I didn’t know why. I had dreams where he smiled, picked me up and spun me around.

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Sarah – South Australia

Every year I see artwork by an artist named Siren. This year I actually met and spoke to her. Siren is from Canada and did not start painting until years after Michael died. Her drawing began two years after Michael passed but she did not paint until 2014. She said “I credit Michael with all of it, all my creativity. That’s my connection to him, the relationship, my spirituality.”

© hannah kozak

Paintings by Siren from Canada.

Here are Rieko Ishii, Miyuki Amano, Yoko Abe and Yuki Otsuki, who came together from Japan. They brought this glorious angel winged, red rose tribute for Michael.

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Left to right: Rieko Ishii, Miyuki Amano, Yoko Abe, Yuki Otsuki from Japan with their winged angel rose arrangement.

Here are Queenie Las, May Cheng and Jessica Kwok from Hong Kong. They layed out pictures for hours on Saturday but everything was gone on Sunday.

Yasuyo Kaneko was sitting with an umbrella and her 2 little MJ dolls, complete with miniature flowers. I found a framed photo I loved, which turned out to be hand made by her.

People like Yasuyo are why I come to Forest Lawn Glendale every years on the anniversary of MJ’s passing.

Yasuyo is kind, gentle, soft-spoke and other centered. She created a delicate wooden frame with MJ’s favorite flowers, and was part of the team that arranged the giant arrangement of red roses, and angel wings in gold.

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i love the details of the miniature flowers on this hand made frame by Yasuyo Kaneko from Yokohama, Japan.

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Yasuyo Kaneko – Yokohama, Japan

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Queenie Lau, May Cheng, Jessica Kwok from Hong Kong.

 

Michael Jackson didn’t just love his own children: he loved all children.  Perhaps that’s why he was judged so harshly by people who did not know him.  In the end, it’s not just his music, dancing and videos that bring people from all corners of the world to Forest Lawn Glendale to deliver their sweet, homemade gifts. It’s because Michael Jackson was the personification of love and what we need now, more than ever, is love.

© hannah kozak

I love this delicate, hand made doll from one of the Japanese fans!

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Painting by Siren – Self Portrait

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I love the simplicity of the hands in glitter.

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Arrangement from fans in Iran.

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Letter from fan in Iran

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Banner from fans in Ireland

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Letter from fan in China – page 2

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Letter from fan in China

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Messages of Love

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Musical symbol arrangement

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We Love You, Michael arrangement.

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Emone Tsang from Hong Kong

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Miranda – Hong Kong

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Hong Kong banner

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Eliza and Pat

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May Cheng – Hong Kong


The Magic of Oaxaca, Mexico

The Magic of Oaxaca, Mexico

From the moment my plane landed in the tiny airport of Oaxaca, I knew I was in for an adventure. Oaxaca is a magical concoction of sights, smells, and sounds. With a combination of ancient and modern sites, the small city is full of fantastic restaurants and can easily be covered by foot.

Its official name, Oaxaca de Juárez, embodies the bundle of contrasts that is modern Mexico. Oaxaca has it all: a lovely colonial city, the ruins of Mitla, craft and food markets, churches, forest covered mountains, and my favorite place of all—Monte Albán.

© hannah kozak

Monte Albán, Mexico

Built by the Zapotecs, the temples of Monte Albán are perched atop a large mesa. Seeing the massive ancient metropolis is a mystical and spiritual experience. Monte Albán is one of the most important ruins in Mexico. To get a sense of its importance, it is said that 30,000 Zapotecs lived in Monte Albán at one time.

© hannah kozak

Monte Albán, Oaxaca, Mexico

The Zapotec capital of Monte Albán overlooks Oaxaca and the view is incredible.

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View of Oaxaca, Mexico from Monte Albán.

I find myself with many questions about Monte Alban because only 10 percent of the site has been uncovered. Did the Zapotecs abandon the city gradually or suddenly? It was founded toward the end of the Middle Formative period around 500 BC and by 1000 AD it was empty. What was it like living in Monte Alban?

For this trip I used my Rolleiflex 2.8F and my Fujifilm X-T2 along with the Fujifilm 16-55mm 2.8 lens.

When I travel, I use my camera to get to know people. I’ll approach total strangers and ask if I may make a photo of them. With that one question, we establish a sort of trust. If I am shooting digitally, I will show them the photo on playback and I usually get big smiles in response.

© hannah kozak

Woman in Teotitlan Market in Oaxaca, Mexico

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Woman in Teotitlan Market in Oaxaca, Mexico

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Woman in Teotitlan Market in Oaxaca, Mexico

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Couple in their vegetable and fruit stand in Teotitlan Market – Oaxaca, Mexico

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Woman in Teotitlan Market in Oaxaca, Mexico

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Children in Tlacolula Market – Oaxaca, Mexico

I like to write down their address and sometimes surprise them with the photo in the mail a month or two later. Sharing my photography is important to me, and I love being able to give the gift of a portrait.

© hannah kozak

Frutas y Verduras – Teotitlan Market Oaxaca, Mexico

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Eugenia Zoila Hernande at La Olla Restaurant making corn tortillas – Oaxaca, Mexico

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Man selling on street in Oaxaca, Mexico

Whether I’m taking pictures or not, traveling through Mexico is always a unique experience. From the Spanish language (la lengua), to the food (la comida), people (la gente), and culture (la cultura). There is a lot of fear-based advice about traveling to various states of Mexico coming from the U.S. that I have never paid attention to. I find all the fear propaganda unwarranted.

I have met beautiful people around the world in my travels, warm kind hearted strangers especially in Mexico. Their warmth and kindness shines through where I meet them in every market, street corner, restaurant, and ancient site.

 © hannah kozak

Woman in Teotitlan Market – Oaxaca, Mexico

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Woman in Teotitlan Market – Oaxaca, Mexico

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Woman – Teotitlan Market

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Woman – Teotitlan Market in Oaxaca, Mexico

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Woman – Teotitlan Market – Oaxaca, Mexico

Mexico gifted me with enriching, heart breaking, beautiful sights and though it left me tired, I felt new life running through my veins.

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Skeletons – Oaxaca, Mexico

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Self Portrait – Oaxaca Cemetery

The Magic of Oaxaca, Mexico


The Love Continues for Michael Jackson 8 Years Later

The Love Continues for Michael Jackson 8 Years Later

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My three MJ dolls

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Entrance to Forest Lawn – 24 June 2017

Why do I return to Forest Lawn year after year on the anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death? In a word, love.

Every year around June 25th, cards, letters, roses, flowers, gifts, balloons and sunflowers begin arriving at Forest Lawn Glendale and Neverland. I spend days meeting and talking to fans and creating photos of the love he continues to inspire. I show up because love is in my blood. It’s healing to be surrounded by these genuine expressions of love for Michael Jackson.

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I have always loved Hitomi Osani’s art work from Japan. She puts so much love into each piece of art she creates.

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Hand made, detailed card from Vania in Italy.

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Inside caption detail.

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Card from Romania

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The creativity that Michael Jackson fans pour into their cards is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

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I love the simplicity of this card.

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Card from Mary K all the way from Greece.

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Envelope of card from 16 Japanese fans.

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I found this card to be so beautiful. 16 fans from Japan, who met each other because of their shared love of Michael Jackson. Heal the World he sang…..

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“It has passed for eight years. However, you are still brilliant. I love you, Michael, forever. From Japan, Noriko.

Japanese fans work on their Michael Jackson tribute quilts throughout the entire year. The details of the quilt and what the fans write on their tiny sections of the quilt are creative and loving. I have always had a feeling that Michael can see all of the genuine heart-felt offerings that are left in his honor.

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Quilt from Japan.

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Insert from Japanese quilt from Risa.

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Quilt insert from Japan.

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Quilt insert.

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Quilt insert from Mayuko

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Quilt insert from 9 Japanese fans.

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Sanae Himarwari

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MJ’s eyes and eyebrows are finely embroidered by Akko.

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© hannah kozak

Yuko Katsumata

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Ikuko Ozawa from Japan.

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Wonderful drawing of MJ by Rita.

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“I am proud to be your fan.”

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Another stunning artwork.

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Yai Kojima from Japan.

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backside of card – Yae Kojima – Japan

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Haruyo from Japan.

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Tiziana Schelling from Italy.

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Marisa’s lovely card.

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Chris from U.K.

I am particularly moved and proud to be a part of the ‘One Rose for Michael Jackson,’ organization spearheaded by Robyn Starkland. This year, 8,527 long stem roses are delivered for Michael. We unload the boxes in the hot sun and set them up. Tomorrow, on June 26, I will join Robyn’s team and show even more love by delivering the roses to various charities across Los Angeles.

© hannah kozak

8,527 red, long stem roses line the way to Michael’s resting place.

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Robyn Starkland – Organizer of One Rose for Michael Jackson.

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The team that set up the roses from One Rose for Michael Jackson.

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The entire team!

After arranging the flowers, a woman carrying a handmade Michael Jackson doll catches my eye. I meet Miyuki Amano from Tokyo, Japan. The doll was intricate and well made. I have a fondness of MJ dolls, so I asked her how long it took her to make it. “It took me three weeks,” she answered. “One day I worked on it for six hours.” She told me she has loved Michael since the day she discovered The Jacksons in 1978. I thanked her, and without a moment’s hesitation she said, “I love you.”

That is a shining example of the power of Michael Jackson. He brings people from different cultures and continents together, who don’t even know each other, yet they have no problem expressing what can sometimes be hard for close friends to say to each other: “I love you.” The magnitude of such authentic kindness made me teary.

© hannah kozak

Miyuki Amano – Tokyo, Japan

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Left to Right:
Naoko Sekomune
Miyuki Amano
Hitomi Miura

I saw my friend Fanny Fung from Hong Kong. We were happy to see each other. She said she saw my recent photos on Instagram. “I would like to give you a thumbs up,” she said. More tears.

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Hong Kong group
Left to right:
Miranda Yuen, Queenie Jackson, Fanny Fung,
Holy Leung, May Cheng
Jessica Kwok
Amy Chan

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Gorgeous art work from Hong Kong.

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Card from Cathay Cat Cat from Hong Kong

I liked the gentle nature of Jose Manuel and Sylvia Siles Rodriguez from Aran Valley, Spain. They are getting married at Forest Lawn on June 25, 2017.

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Jose Manuel and Sylvia Siles Rodriquez from Aran Valley, Spain.

I was taken by Raquel Jean-Joseph’s aura immediately. I asked her about her practice and she told me her mother told her to meditate and then it came to her in a dream, because she had severe anxiety, that she needed to meditate.

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Raquel Jean-Joseph was radiant in person.

And, here is Timmy Dolan, who is eleven years old. He said “I’ve been practicing Michael’s dances since I was eight. I discovered Michael by watching him on TV. I love his dance moves, he created a lot of dance moves.” When I asked him what he loved most about Michael he said “because he was kind.”

© hannah kozak

Eleven year old Timmy Dolan.

Singer Leonard Cohen wrote that there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in. Michael’s light guided him throughout his life, through the good times and through the bad. He always gave credit to a higher power for his songs and ideas.

Michael was the soundtrack of my life. Driving in my 1979 white Volvo while listening to Off the Wall, and singing as loud as possible. Michael said he was here for a reason and that he loved being on stage because it made people happy. He felt it was his job. “As long as the people enjoy it, I’ll always be happy.”

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Flowers from fans in China.

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From fans in Japan.

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From Vicky in Japan.

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From Naoko in Japan.

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Sachiko, Takeshi Nakamura designed this arrangment for the 35th anniversary of Thriller.

He was a public figure from the time he could walk, talk and sing. He knew he was born to entertain and he never doubted his purpose. His commitment to his art was first and lifelong. Michael’s dedication to his craft and his discipline continue to inspire me. His message of heal the world, we are the world, and his messages of peace, love for nature, and love for each other have never been more important.

 © hannah kozak

“I will sing to achieve any purpose. I sing the only flower in the world! You look at me from heaven.
Love, Atsuko

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Dear Michael, I miss you so. I want to see you again.
Harumi Onuzuka from Japan.

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Quilt from fans in Ireland.

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The creativity is endless.

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Purple and white roses from France.

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 © hannah kozak

Aunque los años pasen la herida sigue. Abierta siempre estarás en mi corazón.
Te quiero, Michael.
Carmina (Spain)
As the years go by, the wound continues. My heart is always open.
I love you, Michael.

Whenever anyone said, “I love you” whether it was family, friend or fan, Michael was famous for saying “I love you more.”

© hannah kozak

© hannah kozak

© hannah kozak

Rest in peace.
Petra

Teddy Riley, producer of Michael’s Dangerous album and co writer of Blood on the Dance Floor and Ghosts said “I’ve never witnessed anything or anyone as powerful as Michael”.

Michael was a powerful, young boy from Gary, Indiana who loved the innocence of children and animals. He would cry not only when he saw starving children, but also if he missed seeing James Brown on television. He dreamt of being the greatest entertainer in the world, and he was. Michael lived for his music and died for it too. Now, the world has unrequited love for Michael.

From Michael Jackson fans all around the globe, to the mighty boy from Gary, Indiana:

“WE LOVE YOU MORE, MICHAEL.”

© hannah kozak

I really got a thing for these MJ dolls!!!

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Self Portrait with Michael Jackson

The Love Continues for Michael Jackson 8 Years Later


The Magic of Michael Jackson’s Memorial in Munich, Germany

The Magic of Michael Jackson’s Memorial in Munich, Germany

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Michael Jackson memorial in Munich, Germany

One thing everyone should know about me is that I am a BIG fan of Michael Jackson. I’ve have been involved with the Michael Jackson community for more than eight years, and I had heard about the memorial dedicated to him in Munich years ago. I like to visit any Michael Jackson memorials and photograph them (with my MJ dolls, of course). On a recent journey to Germany, I made sure I gaive myself time to do just that. I was going to be in Munich anyway for a photographic series I was doing on my father, who survived eight Nazi forced labor camps. After hearing about Michael’s memorial, I had to make it part of the trip.

I was heading to the hotel that Michael Jackson stayed at many times: Hotel Bayerischer Hof, which was just one turn and 20 minutes from my motel in the Old Town of Munich. I made a left on Promenadeplatz and the grand hotel with its blue awnings came into view.

© hannah kozak

MJ doll in front of Hotel Bayerische Hof.

Michael stayed in suite 32 in 1997 for the History tour and a year later he returned to take his children Prince and Paris to Circus Krone. In 1999, he had a concert at the Olympic Station, “Michael Jackson and Friends” for the Nelson Mandela charity. Due to a technical problem with part of the set, the central section of ‘The Bridge Of No Return’ collapsed, forcing Michael to climb back on to the stage. Michael continued to perform as planned and was taken to the hospital – after collapsing backstage from the pain of the fall. Did I mention I like Michael jackson?

When I arrived at the hotel, I quickly found photos of Michael Jackson’s smiling face. I sat down on a bench adjacent to the monument and overheard two men speaking about Michael.

“Why did he like being with children” they asked one another.

“Do you want to know?” I answered. They were interested, and encouraged me to explain.

“Imagine everywhere you go in the world, from the time you are eight years old, everyone wants something from you: a hand-shake, a hug, a photo, a kiss, a job or for you to listen to their song. Michael was an innocent, soft-spoken, shy, humble man who loved children because they allowed him to be who he was: a child-like soul.” I said.

The men nodded their heads and understood why Michael connected with children. I’m happy I helped them understand why Michael connected with billions of souls across the globe. It is because he was a loving, gentle, humble and kind man.

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I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, no matter where I am in the world, I am never, ever alone. I’m always able to connect with people in another country about Michael.

I walked to Michael’s memorial each of the four nights I was in Munich. On the last afternoon, I had plans to meet my friend, Nena, whom I met four years ago at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park, where Michael is buried, on the anniversary of Michael’s birthday. Nena has been responsible for creating and running the memorial in Munich for the past eight years.

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Nena Akhtar –

Nena received permission from the mayor of the city and the Bavarian Government to put up photos of Michael on a city monument. Every morning before she goes to work at the two coffee shops she owns she goes to the memorial to add fresh flowers. People send donations for the flowers, candles, pictures and laminating the photos people leave in his honor. It’s a non-profit association to remember Michael Jackson. Fans write to Nena from all over the world and come from France, Italy, from Japan, China, American, Australia, Canada. And many fans from Germany also go to meet Nena and see the memorial.

© hannah kozak

Alternate side of MJ Memorial

I was a Hollywood stuntwoman for twenty-five years, and though it might sound crazy, my life changed the day Michael Jackson died. I was working on Iron Man 2 at the time, and after MJ’s death, I endeavored to discover who Michael Jackson truly was. (Not what the media tried to force feed us.) Thus began my organic, eight-year ongoing series, Searching for Michael Jackson.

These photos are part of my journey to understand the man Michael Jackson was, and also functioned as an outlet for me to meet other MJ fans from around the world. My MJ dolls have been to Warsaw, Krakow, Prague, Budapest, and now Munich, and it’s been a fulfilling, but more importantly, fun, experience to photograph the dolls with Michael Jackson memorials.

My favorite photographs of my MJ doll and photos of Michael are the ones I made in the rain with water drops on my jacket sleeve. I love all the colors from the photographs of Michael on the monument along with the candles, flowers and the backdrop of the hotel.

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I have visited MJ memorials around the world including the one in Budapest, Hungary and I always find it comforting to visit a memorial dedicated to the King of Pop, clear across the Atlantic ocean, so far from my home in Los Angeles. As I travel alone, seeing all the love for Michael is a real comfort, and helps to soothe my soul.

The Magic of Michael Jackson’s Memorial in Munich, Germany


The Jewish Cemetery in Warsaw, Poland

While I was in Warsaw earlier this spring, I set out to photograph the world’s largest Jewish cemetery. With my Rolleiflex 2.8F, Holga 120N, and Fujifilm X-T2, I knew what I carried in my arsenal exactly what I would need to create the images I wanted to make.

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I generally photograph my documentary work in black and white because the images appear less distracting and more timeless, but from past experiences in Buenos Aires, Argentina; La Paz, Bolivia; and Berlin, Germany; I knew I loved the look of cemeteries photographed in color. Color photography adds dimension and context to a scene. Green leaves, for example, can show a picture was taken in spring.

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I prefer to shoot in film because it offers depth and layers to my photos.That being said, I still use my Fujifilm X-T2 for low light situations where I cannot achieve what I need with film. Most of all, I love shooting with film for the same reason I did as a ten-year-old girl: magic.

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The moment I pushed open the renovated gate on Okopowa Street, I knew I was in for that kind of magic. Founded in 1806, the Jewish Cemetery in Warsaw has 250,000 marked tombs set in 82 acres (33 hectares) of green grass with winding, uneven paths shaded by tall, slender trees. The cemetery is divided into separate areas for women and men, and Orthodox Jews are buried apart from reformed Jews. I was especially moved by the burial plots and graves of thousands of Jews who died in the Warsaw Ghetto during WWII and the partisans killed in the Warsaw Uprising.

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I wandered for hours alone through the cemetery, noting how the trees seemed to have picked up on the sadness in the air. I was reminded of how I love the peace and meditative atmosphere of cemeteries, and was moved by the Jewish graves.

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As a young girl, I hadn’t completely formulated what I was doing with photography, but I now understand that being in Jewish cemeteries helps me connect with my father’s side of the family—the family I never got to meet. The Jews buried in the Warsaw cemetery, unlike my father’s family, were given the decency of actual tombs and gravestones. His family; mother, father, both grandparents, and his seven siblings were all killed in the Holocaust.

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Being in Poland and retracing my father’s steps through his hometown and the forced labor camps he survived surfaced emotions that are hard to put into words. I experienced waves of sadness and sorrow, but found balance and meaning through the blessings I have in my life, including being able to travel to Poland time and time again. I find meaning and peace in those sojourns to Poland. Every time I go, it feels as if I am piecing my life together one step at a time.

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These photos are constant reminders that we are spiritual beings having a human experience and will continue to change with each breath. There’s something about walking through a cemetery alone, experiencing and internalizing the silence, that makes me reflect on how life is fragile and temporary. As I travel alone, it’s true, there are moments of profound loneliness, but they help put me in touch with my feelings, which help me create these photos. I went into the Jewish Cemetery in Warsaw seeking spiritual, artistic, and emotional grounding, and I attempted to capture the emotions and images I took away from that experience through my photographs.

© hannah kozak

© hannah kozak

© hannah kozak

© hannah kozak

The tall, skinny trees in Poland.

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© hannah kozak

© hannah kozak

Symbolic graves for the Holocaust victims

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“I don’t take photos, I make them.” – Hannah Kozak, 2017


My Mother’s Dolls part 3

My Mother’s Dolls part 3

This project began organically in December 2009 as a way for me to get to know the mother I truly never knew. The camera brought me connection and separation, all at once. I was given the gift of intuitive observance and another gift of recording that observance. I learned to be bold and vulnerable simultaneously. Eight years later, I am continuing my photo essay on my mother called He Threw the Last Punch Too Hard. It’s as if the project took on a life of its own once I started. I sometimes wonder if genetic memory of being a second-generation Holocaust survivor triggered my need not only to recognize but also to spend years of my life creating photos, editing those photos and turning this project into a book, to help tell this story of a social injustice — domestic violence — about which more stories need to be told.

I dreaded being indiscreet, but invading my mother’s and my privacy was the only way to tell this story. I am sharing my mother with the larger audience because eventually publishing a book on her story would be a small victory. She instills such hope in me. I am witness to her heart and her immense reservoir of compassion for humanity. Her entire being is imbued with the quiet principles of spirituality: living in the moment, being non judgmental, forgiving, and kind.

My father used to tell me that what happened to his family and the Jews in Europe in World War II could easily happen again. So I question everything and that’s part of my storytelling aim as a photographer: questioning and sharing. We are only here for a short time so part of my goal is to create something positive for humanity. I love photography because each person will interpret an image through their own individual eyes. Ernest Hemingway said we should write hard and clear about what hurts. I believe this translates to all art forms. This blog is part three of My Mother’s Dolls. It’s an edit of my mother with various dolls she loves, that keep her company day and night.

© hannah kozak

May 16, 2014

© hannah kozak

26 May 2014

© hannah kozak

23 Nov 2014

© hannah kozak

8 December 2014

© hannah kozak

8 March 2015

© hannah kozak

4 April 2015
After moving into new facility.

@ hannah kozak

17 April 2015

@ hannah kozak

23 April 2015
With Olivia and baby Olivia

@ hannah kozak

13 June 2015

@ hannah kozak

14 June 2015

@ hannah kozak

19 June 2015

@ hannah kozak

22 June 2015

@ hannah kozak

12 July 2015

@ hannah kozak

12 July 2015

@ hannah kozak

22 July 2015

As a bittersweet sidenote, I was awarded the Julia Margaret Cameron Award, 6th Edition, 1st Prize – single Documentary photo from my series on my mother —
He Threw the Last Punch Too Hard.

This project also made it to the finalists for the CDS/Honickman, Duke University 1st Book Prize in Photography 2014.http://firstbookprizephoto.com/hannah-kozak-2014-finalist/

And, this project make it to semi-finalists for the CDS/Honickman, Duke University 1st Book Prize in Photography, 2016.

Early this week I asked my mother what she does every night. She said “I pray to G-d to help me.” “To help me with happiness, I don’t know how to explain.” And then she said “The hardest part of my life is accepting things.” “I want to be like you, Hannah. I want to walk.”

My Mother’s Dolls part 3


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