BY: MELISSA BOODOO
In March 11th, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit Japan, triggering a tsunami that claimed thousands of lives and wiping out entire cities along Japan’s coastline. The tsunami also hit Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, causing the most disastrous nuclear accident since Chernobyl. It caused radioactive material to leak into water supplies of the surrounding town and villages. It forced 300,000 people to evacuate their homes, leaving 150,000 people displaced and nowhere to return to. Residents were forced to leave all of their belongings behind and still have not been unable to return since. Four years later on the anniversary of the incident, a group of artists travels to the exclusion zone to install an exhibition called Don’t Follow the Wind.
Inside the radioactive zone of Fukushima
Don’t Follow the Wind is an exhibition inside the exclusion zone of Fukushima. It is primarily invisible due to the obvious health concerns and risks due to the high levels of radiation that still blankets the surrounding areas.
People may think creating an inaccessible exhibition with no documentations, photos or any real evidence that it really exists is a strange concept. It is meant to haunt our subconscious of what may or may not be inside this exclusion zone.
“This is an act of solidarity with the residents until they can return to their homes.” People were just expected to uproot their entire lives and abandon their furniture, clothes, photos and any personal memories they held dear.
The artists visiting the locations of their installation pieces.
Artist Eva Mattes measures the radiation level of a car wreckage inside of the exclusion zone.
This project is led by artist groups Chim↑Pom who are known widely to create controversial installations around Japan. They invited 12 artists to visit the zone and to make a work that reacts to anything that happened in the area. They felt that it was necessary to record what they could do as an artist to create a response at that moment. When everything stopped functioning, the art that would arise from the rubble would give the vacant land meaning.
This is a response to how many artists felt useless about how powerless art is in the face of disaster.
The contamination area hosts twelve new artist projects, featuring works by artist group, Chim↑Pom, Ai Weiwei, Grand Guignal Mirai, Nikolaus and Jorge Otero-Pailos.
They installed artworks in four contaminated sites; a home, a warehouse, a farm and a recreation centre, donated by former residents who are never going to return back to the area. “We don’t want to avoid the invisibility but embrace its alternative potential, as an invitation to use other senses and induce a speculation that can expand to imagine new ways of living together.”
In the height of the incident, everybody paid attention, but as the disaster gets pushed further back into the history books, many forget that the consequences are still unfolding.
This exhibition serves as a reminder of the lingering effects of catastrophe. People are supposed to just accept their fate that it may be years before they may be able to re-enter their homes again. People are still suffering, even if it can’t be seen.
For more information on the exhibition, please visit: www.dontfollowthewind.info