Purple Diary

[July 4 2011]


Presented at Berlin’s KW Institute for Contemporary Art, the Japanese artist Leiko Uemera proposes an exhibition to reflect on the nuclear cataclysms of the past and present. In turn, works by Japanese photographer Daido MoriyamaShomei Tomatsu, Boris Mikahilov, Wim Wenders, Yutaka Takanashi and others, explore the conflicts of the nuclear age. Film director Win Wenders’ photograph of the Holy Ganjin statue in a temple of the city of Nara, unexhibited to the public, is lit from beneath. As a portrait of a great spiritual leader, Wenders’ rendition appears like that of a burnt victim. Today, Leiko Shiga, coming from a small village of 400 people where many lost their homes and took refuge in shelters, presents a photographic diary reportage after the earthquake in Japan. Works from past decades predate today’s Fukushima nuclear disaster – or the paradox of a nation once ruined by atomic power adopting it again as source of energy. Product of so-called progress, civilization, points out Uemera. Tomatsu’s photograph of a melting watch, damaged by the blast and forever stopped at 11.02am on August 9, 1945, reminds of Japan’s wounded past with the war’s culmination of nuclear bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Fifty years later, the artists’ sense of disaster and warning seem deja vu: the same conflicts between nature, man, progress and economy. The perspectives change but these works can still be looked to for political discussion. With the media’s reporting over Fukushima now largely silenced, the problems continue – and what can we turn to then? Photo Yutaka Takanashi and text Sophie Pinchetti

Leiko Uemera will be the subject of her own solo show  Leiko Ikemura. Transfiguration at the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo this summer.

Fukushima and its consequences is on view until July 17 at the KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Auguststraße 69, Berlin.

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