The deserted radioactive zone of Fukushima has become home to the works of leading international and Japanese artists, having installed a series of works in the area established in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster early 2011. But the ongoing exhibition, titled ‘Don’t Follow The Wind’, may not be publicly accessible to the art-loving public for many decades because of health and safety fears and highly dangerous nuclear fallout triggered by a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami in the northeast region.
Artists including Taryn Simon, Kota Takeuchi and Trevor Paglen have worked with the former residents of Fukushima over the course of a year, creating site-specific works at three sites where nuclear contamination is actually present: a home, warehouse and farm.
Takeuchi, has been based in Fukushima since 2012, where the artist created a photograph titled Timetravellers, of the artist and a colleague at one of the sites; it shows the pair dressed in clothes belonging to the evacuated inhabitants of the zone.
The participating artists Eva and Franco Mattes, who are represented by Carroll/Fletcher gallery in London, co-organised the exhibition, “We all wore coverall suits, gloves and masks. They only protect you from radioactive dust though. Radiation goes through your body. You cannot see, smell, taste or hear it,” Eva Mattes stated.
The New York-based critic Jason Waite, and the independent Japanese curator Kenji Kubota are the other curators of the show. The Japanese art collective Chim Pom initiated the project. Kubota stated: “In general there is no clear timeline for access to the sites, perhaps three years, ten years or even decades: periods that can expand beyond our lifetime…. prompting us to consider our relationship with art, the environment and time itself.” Eva Mattes adds: “This is one of the challenges of this exhibition: how to represent something you cannot see?”
Although not accessible to the public due to the dangers of radiation – the Fukushima exclusion zone works can be accessed through “descriptions, impressions and data”, including the reactions of the former residents, at a “non-visitor centre” which launches at the Watari Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo on 19 September.