feature article, Wilde angle

Photography and disaster 🖋

Representations post-March 11, 2011

by Charlene Veillon
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30 minutes

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On March 11, 2011, Japan experienced one of the worst disasters in its history, combining earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident. The same day, almost simultaneously, we all – Japanese and foreigners – watched helplessly as a flood of apocalyptic images, broadcast in a loop on television screens or on the Internet.
In the days following the disaster and until today a decade later, many artists have felt the need to go there to then attest through their creation to the reality of the unimaginable. Everyone wanted to make their work an "echo" of the disaster and its consequences, without however knowing how to go about it. Because in such a situation, nothing seems adequate, nothing can console...
What power can art, and more particularly photography, have in the face of such an economic, ecological and human disaster? When and how did Japanese photography first confront the challenge of representing disaster? Let's see what answers photographers of the XNUMXst century have been able to provide to the question of the potential of art in the face of catastrophe.


ill.1 – Naoya Hatakeyama, Rikuzentakata / Takata-cho 2011.5.2, 2011 C-print © Naoya Hatakeyama

ill.2 – Takahiro Yamashita, series Iwaki, Fukushima, 20/03/2011 © Takahiro Yamashita

ill.3 – Yuki Iwanami, Threads in the dark © Yuki Iwanami

ill.4 – Yoi Kawakubo, If the Radiance of a Thousand Suns were to Burst at once into the Sky I, 2016, unexposed color photographic film buried under soil in radioactive location © Yoi Kawakubo


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