When the Wind Blows / 風が吹くとき is a cultural exchange between Fukushima, Japan and Portadown, Northern Ireland curated by Tokyo-based Yumi Song and Belfast-based Shiro Masuyama. It features 16 international artists; Ursula Burke(IE/NI), Zoë Murdoch(IE/NI), Shiro Masuyama(JP/NI), Chiharu Mizukawa(JP), Jun Kawada(JP), Kouichi Tabata (JP/DE), L＋ (HK), Nobuhiro Kuzuya(JP), Nyubo Abe(JP), Ryo Shimizu(JP), Satoru Aoyama(JP), Shingo Aruga (JP), Taihei(JP), Takashi Hokoi(JP), Tohru Matsushita(JP) and Yuji Shimono(JP)
Gallery 1, curated by Song features work from the Arafudo* Art Annual 2014/2015. This festival of contemporary art, directed by Song is based in the hot-spring resort of Tsuchiyu Onsen, Fukushima and was initiated in the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster 2011. Selected work ranges from sculpture, painting and textile to installation, animation and video including documentation of site-specific relational projects and performance. Some of the works employ traditional Japanese techniques (Aburidashi) and forms, make use of natural, ‘tainted’ resources like seaweed and hot spring water or refer to place, the region, its history and the invisible threat of radiation. The festival’s aim is to challenge perceptions, encourage dialogue about the disaster and the ramifications of stigma and fear in the weakening of the local economy, place and wellbeing.
In Gallery 2 Masuyama, has invited Northern Ireland based artists, who were selected for Arafudo 2014, to make new work in response to a recently renovated cold war bunker, located in Portadown. For him the discovery of the bunker creates an opportunity to connect with the Fukushima work, particularly poignant because of Japan’s historical experience of nuclear warfare in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The works are ceramic, sculpture and video installation, including a video experiment by Masuyama simulating 6 days in bunker conditions.
The title refers to Raymond Brigg’s 1982 graphic novel showing the imagined effects of a nuclear attack on Britain. It connects to Tsuchiyu Onsen which has been protected from the full extent of airborne radiation by the shelter of the surrounding mountains. Contrary to its recent economic decimation the town registers the lowest radiation in Fukushima. The exhibition extends the ideas of Arafudo, it aims to highlight the ruptures between what is imagined and lived reality, foreground art's role and connect different local and global perspectives.
*Arafudo means “taking the first steps on the first snow of the season”, in the Fukushima dialect.