On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9 earthquake on the North East coast of Japan generated a tsunami of exceptional force. These natural disasters, which caused more than twenty thousand deaths, provoked another tragedy: the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear accident. After this triple disaster that plunged the country into an unprecedented social, political and ecological crisis, artist and film director Hikaru Fujii initiated an ongoing project, taking the Futaba Town Museum of History and Folklore as a starting point and grounds for speculation.
Futaba, situated 4 kilometres from the power plant, was entirely evacuated and most of it still remains a “Difficult-To-Return Zone”. To avoid radioactive contamination and biological damage, the museum collection (dioramas, traditional objects, tools, stuffed animals, etc.) was removed little by little from the area. Uprooted from their place of origin, these artefacts nevertheless continue to represent the foundations and collective memory of this community. The catastrophe, which called the nature of Japan’s infrastructure as well as the ecological consequences of capitalism into question, has at least partly – if not totally – lost its potential for socio-political alterity.
‘Les nucléaires et les choses’ attempts to examine this situation and create a platform of research and discussion both at the heart of the Japanese community and beyond. A multi-channel video installation shows edits from a symposium organized and filmed by Fujii in Iwaki city, Fukushima, in collaboration with the Fukushima Museum in October 2017. Fujii convened a group of experts in anthropology, archaeology, political science and history, as well as (former) museum curators from the Futaba Town Museum of History and Folklore, Hiroshima Peace Museum, and the National Museum of Modern Art Tokyo, among others, to discuss ideas linked to the memory and representation of the catastrophe. Intertwining a documentary and performative approach, testimonials and future scenarios, the works of Hikaru Fujii reveal a story more complex than the dominant version.
’Les nucléaires et les choses’ has been created in collaboration with KADIST, the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (MOT), École des Beaux-Arts de Paris and Yoshiko Isshiki Office, Tokyo. It is supported by Bunkacho Foundation and the Agency for Cultural Affairs Government of Japan in the tax year 2019.