Journal: Sharing a Disaster with Others: Contemporary Japanese Art and the Utopian Promise of Tohoku27. Jun - 27. Jun 14 / ended ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts)
The tsunami and earthquake that struck the north east coast of Japan in 2011 immediately killed and displaced nearly four hundred thousand people, and sparked a longterm, on-going nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, the ultimate consequences of which remain difficult to foresee. The Tohoku triple disaster made a seismic impact on Japanese society and culture. With its dramatic and unprecedented history of environmental pollution – including now four serious nuclear incidents – Japanese artists hold a particular stake in questioning and raising awareness of environmental threats.
In the wake of the disaster, the three artists under discussion here – Koki Tanaka (b.1975), Naoya Hatakeyama (b.1958), and the ChimPom group (founded 2005) - eschewed recent art historical precedent in favour of mining the emotive, humanistic and politicised response of the Japanese post-war avant-garde to the nuclear threat.
Accompanying the artist’s commission for Journal in the Lower Gallery, Koki Tanaka embarks on a series of events over a period of 24hrs that he refers to as ‘actions’. The events are programmed within a loose framework shaped by communal involvement and group experiences of everyday rituals that refer to past iterations of his ongoing series of works entitled Precarious Tasks. Audiences are welcome to drop in and out of the events throughout the day and night.
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