Artists and the Disaster - Documentation in Progress
An exhibition configured to allow visitors to experience transitions in time
The Great East Japan Earthquake struck on March 11, 2011. While citizens organized various activities that offered aid and assistance to victims both inside and from outside the disaster zone, artists who make their livelihood through artistic expression also took action. This exhibition looks back on the actions and artworks produced by 23 artists that emerged as a result of the earthquake, tracing the ways in which their work unfolded between March 2011 and the present in chronological sequence.
Redefining the concept of “art”
The works of these artists include ingenious attempts at sludge removal, ongoing projects that contribute to the rebuilding of communities, documentary videos and photos that continuously record the situation in the disaster-stricken areas, and pieces dealing with problems and issues that emerged as a result of the catastrophe. Many of these encompass activities that were carried out by temporarily shelving one’s identity as an “artist”, as well as projects carried out without the expectation that they would later be exhibited as an artwork. The attitudes and actions of these artists represent a renewed questioning of the concept of art as established by modernity, and demonstrate the sort of role that art ought to play in society – perhaps more strongly and forcefully than ever before.
A focus on the “little situations”
Following the activities of these artists as a result of the earthquake, it soon became clear that a certain sense of conflict and hesitation lay beneath their ambitious projects. At the same time, there were several projects that adapted to local conditions, changing in content as time went by. The diversity of these approaches and the complex ways in which these experiences developed shed light on the various small-scale occurrences that emerged as a result of he disaster ¬– “little situations” rarely picked up by the mass media that seem to reflect our own sense of bewilderment and indecision. What has been on our minds since then? What role should the individual play in relation to the local community and society at large? What does it mean to be a citizen within society? And how have our thoughts and feelings about the disaster evolved since then?
An exhibition that generates memories and functions as a device for thinking
During the exhibition period, there will be a varied program of related events that will allow visitors to express their thoughts after having observed the unfinished and ongoing actions and projects of the various artists on display. There will be opportunities and spaces for people to have free and uninhibited conversations about these issues, and participatory hands-on workshops open to people of all ages will also be held. This exhibition is being held in the hope that these assorted events will serve as different entry points for each person to get involved, helping each of us to generate individual memories about the March 11, 2011 disaster, and prompting us to look back what happened and to reflect on what one should do in the future.