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“Visiting the Fukushima Photography Exhibition in Offenbach, Germany” - The Aqualon Blog #5 (13.Jul.2018)

Greetings, dear reader ^-^   Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting a stunning and moving exhibition of Fukushima photography inside a historic castle in Offenbach, Germany. The Isenburg Castle is a Renaissance castle built in the 16th century by house Isenburg and a beautiful venue for this excellent art exhibition.

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  Inside, gallery panels have been set up, presenting beautiful prints of photographs made by three Japanese artists, depicting scenes from the exclusion zones of the Fukushima region where radiation has driven the inhabitants from their homes.  

Click here to view my photo album of the entire exhibition and presentations!

  Four excellent presenters, two of which are lecturers at my faculty (Japanologists).   * A chemist employed by the German Weather Service, Thomas Steinkopff, talks about the German weather and radiation measurement institutions and inter-cooperation networks that were already well in place since the Chernobyl disaster, and who immediately started making predictions about the spread of radioactive material in Fukushima, within days of the disasters, with Japanese citizens thanking them for providing some tangible information, which was sparse and regulated domestically. He also spoke about how radiation is measured and kept track off in Germany.   * From the Faculty of Japanology of the Goethe University in Frankfurt, David Jungmann (M.A.) talks about the protest culture in Japan, and how the government is pressing on with nuclear power against popular opinion, trying to turn the 2020 Olympics into a closing chapter for the whole Fukushima incident.   * From the same Faculty, Christian Chappelow (M.A.) talks about post-fukushima poetry and how people deal with disasters that are ultimately man-made. He presents some truly moving and shocking poems, which he translated into German, written by Wakamatsu Jôtarô, who became a nuclear activist after the Chernobyl catastrophe, realizing that Japan was in the same danger. He wrote poems on this topic long before the Fukushima disaster, and went on to write more after, presenting the human side behind generalized and dehumanized news reports meant to prevent people from feeling and expressing emotions about what had happened.   * Urbanist Kai Vöckler, who is involved in creativity in urban design and has a science of art degree, talks about the impact of human creation on the landscapes of the world in light of another exhibition he is curating in Siegen, Germany called "Remembering Landscape", which, going by its German title, specifically refers to the landscape's ability to "remember", or more specifically, to "bear witness". Sobering notions like the fact that so many man-made structures, machines, products, and more have been built by now that their weight combined averages 50 kilograms per square meter of the planet's surface certainly left their impression on the audience.   A brief discussion round followed where a member of a German airline spoke about the days surrounding 3/11, as it is being called, and we learn that both people going in and out of Japan were incredibly thankful for them carrying out evacuations and flights earlier and longer than anyone else. People were thankful for being let into the country, because they had family to worry about, and of course people were thankful to be able to leave, because they were fearing the invisible.   The organizer of the exhibition and vernissage was physics professor Werner Lorke, who had visited Japan and gotten into contact with local artists to visit and explore the exclusion zones himself, also taking photos there. He worked closely together with Ryoichi K. Maeda, who was also present at the vernissage, providing the closing word, talking about his work and his desire to explore and document new trends in youth culture that have been influenced by 3/11. Alongside photographs by Kota Takeuchi and Jun Nakasuji, Maeda's works are also exhibited here.   In conclusion I can say that this was truly an enriching experience and the photographs were quite impactful in the messages they present. If you are near Offenbach, I recommend taking a look at this wonderful exhibition; the life-size prints will actually be destroyed afterwards as they are part of the "Don't Follow the Wind" art project, which is set up inside the exclusion zone and meant as a statement on how that part of Japan is now off limits and uninhabitable by humans.   I hope you enjoyed this little recap of my experience ^-^   Have a great weekend,
Koray


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