Thursday, August 18, 2016

Tabito, Iwaki, Fukushima / Art Meeting, 2016

July 28, 2016, Tobito, Iwaki, Fukushima, Japan - upon my arrival for the site-specific installations throughout the region in response to the Dai'ichi nuclear accident in 2011 and everything that has transpired, been evacuated, lost, repaired, survived and forgotten since then. Over 50 artists from Japan, France, Mexico, Okinawa and the U.S. participated in Art Meeting, an unforgettable exhibition experience of events and places organized by Nobuki Yamamoto. This blog entry is transcribed from my notes on the back pages of Marie Mutsuki Mockett's novel Picking Bones from Ash. At the top of the page, it is appropriately printed, "On page 224, Akira says: The world of the living can be like that of the dead. It is tragic when we lose ourselves in grief."

The front yard of the little house where I slept for one / the first night, upon waking

This can not be. I need the sun to make the new cyanotype work for the show and it is raining. I sleep on a thin futon without sheets, a curled up towel as my pillow, on the floor next to two women strangers already asleep upon my arrival with a bruised and swollen knee from falling at the airport - one of whom sleeps under a mylar blanket - waking me with every turn. There was an earthquake in the middle of the night. At first I thought the plumbing (but without a shower or a flushing toilet, what plumbing?) Then I thought it was one of the four men in the adjacent room having a seizure. There is only a sliding paper door between us. Then I thought it had to be a herd of galloping animals, The house shook as if god's bones were angry or the belly of the earth was on fire, hungry. The two women sat up said, "earthquake." I thought "tsunami" and that I was going to die. It passed. 

The neighbor's dog that barked and darted about as I passed back and forth at 4 in the morning

I am far far away from any signal, contact. No car. No service. No phone. No wifi. I have to get to and make work in one of the seven abandoned schools - transforming an unknown classroom into an exhibition experience. Luckily, I brought a box finished works - black and white photograms from Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Fukushima and a couple of cyanotypes of a shovel and the "atomic mask". If that is all I show, I will be at peace but I hope to be able to respond and produce new work in time for the show. It is raining and gray - not a lick of sun. It is only 5am. I am being challenged. The world is showing me how luxurious my life is at home. It is irreconcilable in my traveling mind how organized and clean Japan is when you arrive. On time and comfortable trains, assistance everywhere, working infrastructure for the public, collective experience. But in the home - many homes - such humble space. Granted, this is "rural Japan" in a region suffering from the 2011 tsunami and earthquake and nuclear disaster, but still. I feel on my kneecaps yesterday at Chicago O'Hare airport. It hurt. I cried. A lady brought me ice and I had Madeleine's gift of an ice pack in my carry-on, luckily. The lady hugged me twice when I thanked her before I made my way to the Tokyo gate. 
A poster for Prime Minister Abe next to a nearby house....wish I could read/understand Japanese

I read Mockett's enitre book, Picking Bones from Ash, yesterday  a book full of ghosts and family, travel and struggle. A story of strong talented women finding their way in this confusing world. Please let the sun come out today or tomorrow. Please let me find hydrogen peroxide to rinse the cyanotypes in so that they turn deep blue. Please let me have a delicious and healthy meal at least once today. I am already sore, tired and hungry. At 50 years old I wonder if I am too old for this challenge? I turn to my other book, An Artist of the Floating World, bu Kazuo Ishiguro, for comfort and it begins, "If on a sunny day..."

in awe of the morning dew trapped suspended

I go outside to make myself right with the world and it si NOT raining! The sound was a babbling brook, small river gushing alongside the back of the house - wild lilies galore -----

hydrangea, bamboo, gladiolas, the curve of the green road.....

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