Friday, August 19, 2016

Tabito, Iwaki, Fukushima, July 29, 2016


Driving through a most beautiful and lush countryside - 
always wondering about radiation / contamination levels

Goto behind one of the abandoned schools, 
working on his room of branches....

fur and weeds caught on a fence

greenhouses behind the city recreation center where we all sleep on tatami mat floors 
and communally cook


Back behind the house where I slept the first night:

Shadow of a playground structure at the abandoned school where I am working:

An artist, Takeda, with his childhood nest of branches and basket on site in the forest

When I needed to cool down, I visited this moss covered rock on the side of a stream right up alongside the school where I was working

Early morning, first one up, walking at dawn.....

Perfect couple

As we walked around one temple building where an art installation was, I gasped to discover this extraordinary other temple building. The three Japanese artists I was with were also pleasantly surprised, but I think they were more surprised by my awe than the structure!



Wall at dawn. Art.

Too much happened yesterday. Indescribable. The beautiful and old school where I am working is abandoned like so many others but it is still full of maps and books, a stocked infirmary. I made many cyanotypes in the overcast sun: Fukushima baskets from the old house where we stayed the first night, brooms, mushrooms, scissors, tweezers, implements, an old mallet.

Here I am drying wet cyanotypes, photo by Sae Otomo 
 
exposing the Fukushima basket to the sun on watery tsunmai blue

infirmary scissors, string on the infirmary bed




installation view


I found a preserved bee/wasp in the science room - the only specimen  there as far as I could tell - uncanny, symbolic - and some sort of medical pack....

Photograms of Hiroshima shovel and chestnut pods, fish teeth and molten plastic 
found on the Iwaki beach last year:

Fukushima school brooms:



Not sure why all the school clocks are stopped at 4:54 but it is chilling.

The wind blew these plants off the cyanotype paper during exposure but I rinsed it anyway and discovered an accidental architecture made while coating the paper back in NC: storm, fission / fusion, accident, nuclear power plant, radioactive sky, contaminated, the uncanny accident:

Outside my classroom was this humble platform - perfect for exposing cyanotypes 
and for displaying the objects for the exhibition.


The school gym in the background - such a gorgeous structure, so forlorn...

A greenhouse behind the school

Loose tooth in the school nurse's office

Typical Japanese ladder:

Loved this mallet more than the image made

stones on a map 

Sae Otomo collected mushrooms for me to make cyanotypes with / again, love the mushrooms more than the cyanotypes produced - this little red one on its own planet island.....One avoids eating mushrooms in Fukushima as they hold more contamination than other plants


First time exhibiting these bleached/toned photograms of xeroxes of Nagasaki trees 
immediately after the A-Bomb in 1945


Also first time for this photogram of a bundle of paper peace cranes 
from the World Friendship Center in Hiroshima

Radiation monitor station in front of the school. The government officials place these stations where there has been "extensive decontamination" (as Bo Jacobs rightly says, "redistribution").

Another artist's installation down the hall from mine - love this! Stones and string in the music room. 



My classroom from the outside




Photogram of little red show I found on the Iwaki beach last fall, handpainted.


Installation view

I rinsed the prints outside with a hose and was driven to Iwaki City to get hydrogen peroxide to work the blue magic. I dried the cyanotypes on the infirmary beds - little blue bodies, ghosts resting, gone. I will install today - edit, choose, piece together. I hope to move the bed into the classroom upon which to install the smaller cyanotypes made of the infirmary objects. It is haunting.

Last night we drank lots of beer and ate edamame, fish with walnuts and sesame seeds, pickled eggplant, cabbage, lamb, whale. The whale made me sad and tasted sad.

As much as I want to believe that we are honoring the evacuated, drawing attention to the ills of radiation, nuclear power and a bad government/corporate system, I'm not so sure. This is so remote. Those who are gone - evacuated - will not see or experience this. Maybe this project is for those who remain, those who chose to stay (or had no other choice but to stay), those who are here, , for ourselves to reconcile this mess, to make something beautiful. Sae Otomo ties paper sutras and prayers to trees. Goto builds a room out of branches in the woods, the interior a lush green floor of living and rooted ferns. Someone choreographs netting over a rushing river. It is loud and silent. It is hard to not speak Japanese, but I manage. I can not imagine such a clean and beautiful public center anywhere in the U.S, that would house 20+ artists with gorgeous mountain-view baths and a huge stocked communal kitchen for FREE! Amazing.
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