On the first anniversary of photographer Corky Lee’s death, Ken Chen sets forth an astounding feat of remembrance: a mosaic of photocriticism from which he teases out an elegy to Lee’s empathic genius, all set against a litany of horrors perpetuated on the Asian American community. Stunning writing, brimming with clarity and anger and love.

I spent a year looking at Corky Lee’s photographs. I saw grandmothers squat on the curb and laugh. I saw girls pluck the guqin. I saw boys pose on their fire escape. I saw women set up a streetside clinic whose sign says without shame: PAP SMEAR / BREAST EXAM / GONORRHEA TEST. I saw tenements, picketers, parades, veterans, and flags. I saw Reyna Elena, Miss Philippines and a B-Boy flying his bare arms wide. I saw a dapper Desi boy protesting Dotbusters. I saw men beat Taiko drums, I saw them hold up tombstones for Vincent Chin. I saw three women from Sakhi say: WE WILL NOT TOLERATE ABUSE. I saw a bride and groom order from a hot dog cart. I saw two cool women throw a cool glance. I saw a man remembering at a table marked POSTON ARIZONA and I wondered how many years had passed since the prison camps. I saw New York City and the tangled warrens of Chinatown. I saw a hollering woman in a hardhat hoist her sign high, the text that also tells her biography: INJURED ON THE JOB, THEN FIRED BY THE BOSS! There is something moving about the sheer number of people Corky Lee thought were worth remembering. His archive is an Aleph in which you can glimpse everyone from an Asian American world bulging vast with time and complexity. Over the past few years, we have asked for someone to finally see us. Looking at these kaleidoscopic images, I found myself thinking the only power that can recognize us is ourselves.