Real Lives Half Lives: Fukushima is a season exploring cultural and societal responses to disaster, displacement and poisoned lands. What can art do in an ongoing catastrophe? How do citizens respond to a situation that forces tens of thousands of people out of their homes, land, and communities, many of whom probably cannot return for decades?
A Walk in Fukushima - Don't Follow The Wind
A Walk in Fukushima is an immersive 360-degree video, viewed through headsets made by former residents of the Fukushima exclusion zone, that guides the viewer through an inaccessible exhibition entitled Don’t Follow the Wind, that has been created inside the radioactive evacuated area surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. A Walk in Fukushima presents an intimate experience of the inaccessible zone, the confidential venues for the exhibition, and the Daiichi power plant itself. In the video, the artworks, installed in former homes and working spaces, are largely obscured by the figures of the artists and members of the curatorial team, retaining their inaccessibility and remaining shrouded and invisible to the outside world. The video is shown in headsets made by three generations of the Fukushima family of artist Bontaro Dokuyama, who live just outside of the zone in a contaminated area deemed “safe to live” by the government. The grandson, mother, father, and grandmother all made headsets that share their objects and experiences from this new reality. An estimated 24,000 people are not allowed to return to their homes following the disaster, and it may be decades or more before zones within the Fukushima Prefecture are declared safe from radiation and residency restrictions are lifted. It seems probable, therefore, that the exhibited artworks will remain unseen and inaccessible for decades.
Project Fukushima! - Hikaru Fujii
Artist Hikaru Fujii’s film Project Fukushima! follows the preparations for a festival held in Fukushima city five months after the nuclear disaster. The festival, called simply "Fukushima!" was organised by a group of artists and musicians including Yoshihide Otomo. They aim to give visibility to Fukushima’s current state just as it was. The film features music and poetry by Yoshihide Otomo, Michiro Endo, Ryoichi Wago and people from Fukushima and other regions of Japan. It was not a typical festival since the organisers had to address questions such as: Would it be ethical to bring people to Fukushima? What about children? And what would it mean to the people of Fukushima if the festival had to be called off after all due to radiation concerns? Throughout the film we see how the lives of people in Fukushima have changed and what the future might look like for the next few generations.
The “triple disaster” of earthquake, tsunami and meltdown energised many people in Japan to become more proactive, vocal and dissenting. Mass anti-nuclear protests were held countrywide in the years following the disaster and smaller scale protests are still widespread. A citizen science movement sprang up in response to the slow release (some claimed withholding) of radiation data, with citizens using their own radiation-measuring devices to measure levels of radioactivity and post that data online. Legal challenges and petitions against nuclear power in Japan point to another tactic used by a citizenry that wishes to reclaim more governance over its environment and safety. Japanese artists have responded with an array of approaches, and have often been at the forefront of dissent and critique.
A programme of talks, events and activities will run through May to July, in partnership with Art Action UK andIKLECTIK.