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“Insignificant” Lives and the Power of the Arts after Fukushima

“Insignificant” Lives and the Power of the Arts after Fukushima From October 6, 2018, to January 20, 2019, the exhibition Catastrophe and the Power of Art was on view at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo. The exhibition, curated by Kondo Kenichi, was notable for the choice of topic and the display of relevant pieces created by international artists. Moreover, it coincided with the fifteenth anniversary of the museum. Museum director Nanjo Fumio explained that while the tenth anniversary was dedicated to universal themes such as “happiness” and “love,” catastrophe became central for the fifteenth anniversary “given the disasters and tragedies that seem to be a constant presence today.”1 The showcased works were thoughtful in so many ways that my first response was to wish that I could have mentioned the exhibition in my own book on the arts of the atomic age.2 But the book was about to be distributed, so it was too late. As an afterthought, however, and acknowledging that several other exhibitions with nuclear accidents as their topic have been touring in the past year in the West, I realized that the arts have not kept silent or forgotten about the Great East Japan Earthquake—or “3.11”—and the subsequent nuclear accident at Fukushima’s power plant. The choice itself—to focus on catastrophe seven years after the disaster, and to make it a central topic for an anniversary exhibition—is telling. At first, I intended to write a simple review of the exhibition, but while finishing my first version, protests began at the Whitney Museum of American Art against a trustee, Warren B. Kanders, whose company Safariland produces military and law enforcement supplies such as tear gas, believed to have been used on hundreds of migrants at the United States/Mexican border. Not long before, protests were held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim … http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Afterimage: The Journal of Media Arts and Cultural Criticism University of California Press

“Insignificant” Lives and the Power of the Arts after Fukushima

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Publisher
University of California Press
Copyright
© 2019 by The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved. Please direct all requests for permission to photocopy or reproduce article content through the University of California Press’s Reprints and Permissions web page, https://www.ucpress.edu/journals/reprints-permissions.
eISSN
2578-8531
DOI
10.1525/aft.2019.463003
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

From October 6, 2018, to January 20, 2019, the exhibition Catastrophe and the Power of Art was on view at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo. The exhibition, curated by Kondo Kenichi, was notable for the choice of topic and the display of relevant pieces created by international artists. Moreover, it coincided with the fifteenth anniversary of the museum. Museum director Nanjo Fumio explained that while the tenth anniversary was dedicated to universal themes such as “happiness” and “love,” catastrophe became central for the fifteenth anniversary “given the disasters and tragedies that seem to be a constant presence today.”1 The showcased works were thoughtful in so many ways that my first response was to wish that I could have mentioned the exhibition in my own book on the arts of the atomic age.2 But the book was about to be distributed, so it was too late. As an afterthought, however, and acknowledging that several other exhibitions with nuclear accidents as their topic have been touring in the past year in the West, I realized that the arts have not kept silent or forgotten about the Great East Japan Earthquake—or “3.11”—and the subsequent nuclear accident at Fukushima’s power plant. The choice itself—to focus on catastrophe seven years after the disaster, and to make it a central topic for an anniversary exhibition—is telling. At first, I intended to write a simple review of the exhibition, but while finishing my first version, protests began at the Whitney Museum of American Art against a trustee, Warren B. Kanders, whose company Safariland produces military and law enforcement supplies such as tear gas, believed to have been used on hundreds of migrants at the United States/Mexican border. Not long before, protests were held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim …

Journal

Afterimage: The Journal of Media Arts and Cultural CriticismUniversity of California Press

Published: Sep 3, 2019

References