Saturday, March 10, 2012

3.11


With downtime in the last two weeks, I've read a lot about the 3.11 earthquake and a year of its effects. A year is no time. We are still on the mountain, so to speak. It will take years to get off the mountain and far enough away to be able to survey it in its entirety.


I’ve tried to imagine how many lives is 20,000. I’m not big picture; I’m always drawn to the details, in this case, the individual stories of those who left life so immediately and those who must live with their ghosts. The 3.11 Portrait Project was created to offer hope to the people still living in shelters or temporary housing.




The 3.11 Portrait Project is a project supporting Great Eastern Japan Earthquake recovery with the participation of photographers from different fields, hair & makeup artists, [and] models . . . What they witnessed – people who had shutdown emotionally from suffering opening up a little each time a shutter was pressed. People overcome with joy over photographs they picked up out of the dirt. Middle-aged women who seemed to brightly laugh off even unprecedented hardship. The photographers and volunteers who witnessed this asked their colleagues, “Will you work with us to shoot photographs of the victims?”


The members …reveal their individuality against a common white backdrop. The only things present there are the feelings of the subject and the person taking the photograph. They feel that photography’s intrinsic “preservation” and “communication” functions will prevent this disaster from being forgotten, and that photography moves people and has the power to change grief into smiles. And in front of them, the photographers have the optimistic, I’m-not going-to-let-this-beat-me attitude of the people who have come forward to be their subjects. We would like others to experience their spirit . .







 





 --from the 3.11 Portrait Project website



I can't help but relate to any tragedy as a mother, but all children are our children. Borders are meaningless in the face of earthquakes, tsunamis, and nuclear meltdowns. The fact of whether or not you’ve reproduced doesn’t matter. The thousand daily choices we make as adults, our collective solutions to large-scale problems, the issues we ignore, are the legacy of our children.  And I say that more as a reminder to myself than anything. I used disposable sandwich bags in my kids' lunches recently, I still have no regular news source, and until last week, I didn't know there was a nuclear power plant in Central California. There's no excuse.




Strong Children is a continuing collaborative art project by English artist Geoff Read. His work as a co-artist aims to give children experiencing difficult circumstances - of any kind - a way of expressing and communicating their thinking and feeling to a wider audience. At the time the triple disaster of 11th March 2011 struck he had been living in Fukushima prefecture with his 8-year-old son for two years. Six months and a flood later, the family self-evacuated to Kyoto prefecture.


The images are designed and made by the children as much as possible, with words too if they wish. First they make a small sketch of their idea, and once we have understood each other, they draw or paint their picture, then I put their portrait into it according to their instructions. Sometimes I do their portrait then they draw around it. They choose the pose, facial expression, colour and feeling. It is a collaborative process, but they are the boss. I try and help them realise their idea, and do what they tell me . . .




"I painted a picture of flying on clouds. I am flying with dogs. I wish I could fly."


Kurumi is 7 and lives in Koriyama, Fukushima, Japan.


Her situation:
The levels of radiation in Koriyama are so high that most parents and schools are not allowing children to play outside at all, even though soil has been removed from many school grounds. They wear long sleeves and face masks when outside, and avoid the rain. They try to be careful about food and water. Koriyama is a city of 340,000 people 60km west of Fukushima Daiichi.


 



Ami is 10 and lives in Yanaizu, Fukushima prefecture.


Her situation:
As well as living with the nuclear accident of 11th March 2011, which is still ongoing, a few weeks after this drawing was made it was reported on TV that 640 tons of highly radioactive sewage waste from Koriyama had been secretly dumped near her village against the wishes of the council.Then on 29th July, a major flood hit the valley.






He is 10 and lives in Yanaizu, Fukushima prefecture.


His writing on the picture says "Now the earth is anxious and troubled. What can we do about it?!"


His situation:
As well as living with the nuclear accident of 11th March 2011, a few weeks after this drawing was made it was reported on TV that 640 tons of highly radioactive sewage waste from Koriyama had been secretly dumped near his village against the wishes of the council.Then on 29th July, a major flood hit the valley.



--from the Strong Children Japan blog



No comments:

Post a Comment