Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ninoshima and Ghosts

She is oddly happy with the ghostly white shadows of the ragged aluminum lunch box and round canteen, the slender hair comb and small circular watch face that glow amid the cyanotype blue. Mari, one of the sweetest women in the world, helped her make the prints in the tiny "sunshine garden" of the Peace Museum. She will go back tomorrow to make bigger cyanotypes of fragments of the A-Dome beam, glass bottles, other canteens and lunch boxes, watches. It is an odd happiness because when she places these objects on the paper she feels elated and disturbed simultaneously: so lucky to have access and to be able to make this work she dreamed of making and bothered by the enormous absence that these things mark and hold, aware that once again, here is an American exposing these objects - not to radiation or a bomb this time, but to light in order to render their shapes and being in soft white shadow forms, much like the white shadows cast by people and bridge railings, ladders and plants at the time of the A-bomb. She made a large explosion cyanotype today on her roof using dead flower heads. It looks like stars.

She went to the island of Ninoshima yesterday with Michiko. Ninoshima is 20 minutes by ferry from Hiroshima and it was where soldiers and horses were quarantined during the war and then where bomb orphans were sent after the war. Now there is a boarding school in the same facilities - with old chimneys, military watchtowers and ammunition bunkers close by - for 200 unwanted children. It was beyond hot as they walked around the island to find the horse crematorium, the A-bomb cenotaph, which she did a rubbing of because it said "Comfort Souls" and she doubts she will be given permission to do any rubbings in Peace Park, military foundations and tunnels. There wasn't as much there as she thought there would be but it is still a haunted place. There are thousands of oyster shells - strung in long ropes and heaped up in orderly piles. There were women there working on stringing them together. The oyster factories were closed for the season. February is the month to eat fresh oysters. Michiko worries about poisonous oysters during the summer months.

She was given permission to do rubbings and make photographs in the basement of the old Fuel Hall and City Planning Office - now the Peace Park Rest House. She spent over 2 hours there last week, wearing the required hard hat and sweating profusely as she set up her tripod and 2 different cameras to take pictures of the black rain-like satins on the wall, the worn stairwell banister, the dark and damp room, the rusty door and lonely paper cranes left for Mr. Nomura Eizo, the man who survived at the age of 47 and died in 1982 at the age of 84.
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