Artists’ responses to the Fukushima Disaster

Arts Catalyst
74-76 Cromer Street
London WC1H 8DR

Wednesday 21 June 2017
6.30pm – 8.30pm

Free. Limited availability, contact Arts Catalyst to reserve a place.

The Otolith Collective and the curatorial collective Don’t Follow The Wind curate an evening of screenings of artists’ films responding to the Fukushima disaster as part of Real Lives Half Lives: Fukushima at Arts Catalyst,

Images proliferate our world. There is a social fascination for disaster images. There is a hyper-meditation upon events that occur outside of our immediate comprehension. How can film re-negotiate our relationship to catastrophic events and an unrecognisable, apocalyptic environment? How can visual inquiry expand as a sociopolitical investigation into selective, political blurring of public facts?

The nuclear disaster of Fukushima acts as a point of departure from which to reflect on and expose the fragility and folly of humanity in the age of the Anthropocene. The discussion will explore how artists’ responses can act as a platform from which to explore abstract fears and factual realities, apocalyptic landscapes and the invisible threat of nuclear radiation.


Tadasu Takamine, Japan Syndrome Kansai Version, 2011, 31 mins
Japan Syndrome is a three-part performative video focusing upon the social consequences of the Fukushima disaster. In this work Takamine explores the ‘coolness’ or serenity of the Japanese people: by displacing this socially promoted quality alongside the recent ecological effects of the reactor meltdown, Takamine exposes the political efforts to hoodwink the Japanese population through a recognisable national image.


Nina Fischer and Maroan el Sani I Live in Fear After March 11, 2014, 33 mins, 2014, plus clip of Kurosawa’s original film.
The 1955 Japanese film, I Live in Fear, was written and directed by Akira Kurosawa, and driven by his concern over the nuclear weapon testings on Bikini Atoll. The story follows an elderly factory owners increasingly obsessive fear of imminent nuclear disaster: a fear that drives him to move his entire extended family away from Japan and to the imagined safety of a farm in Brazil.

Following the Fukushima disaster, Fischer and el Sani invited fugitives from the Aichi Prefecture and actors to a screening of the classic film. The screening was followed by a discussion and improvisation workshop that focused on the exploration of fears and uncertainties surrounding nuclear catastrophe and the threat of radiation. Held as part of the Aichi Triennale in 2013, the event creates a cyclical manifestation of artistic inquiry into nuclear threat. I Live in Fear After March 11 acts as a social warning through both its historical repetition and renewed, contemporary urgency.


Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Ernst Karel, Verena Paravel , Ah humanity! 2015, 23 mins
Ah humanity! is a visual, ethnographic inquiry into our current condition, portraying an apocalyptic view of modernity alongside a collective, historical amnesia. Taking the Fukushima disaster as its starting point, the film identifies a flux between the abstract and the documentary through a variety of artistic mediums and form. Images were shot on a telephone through a handheld telescope, whilst the audio shifts between excerpts from Japanese genbaku and related film sountracks, to audio recordings from seismic laboratories and locational sites. Ah humanity! is a collaborative film that offers a multi-dimensional discussion: overlapping and interlinking artistic form, anthropological debate and the reality of human disaster.


Ah humanity! 2015. Copyright and courtesy Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Ernst Karel, Verena Paravel.


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curated programme

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