The catastrophic events of March 11, 2011—the earthquake, tsunami, and ensuing nuclear meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant—have been called the triple disaster in Japan. Among the first artists to respond to these experiences were photographers. Some attempted to document the devastation, drawing on a long history of depicting natural disasters in Japanese art. Others ruminated through their work on the meaning and use of photography in the wake of tragedy. Still others responded to the challenges of depicting an invisible nuclear threat, calling up the collective memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and raising questions about national identity and global responsibility. The resulting images record the unfolding process of addressing destruction, social change, anxiety, and memory in ways that express emotions beyond words.
By Anne Nishimura Morse and Anne E. Havinga, with contributions by Michio Hayashi, Marilyn Ivy, and Tomoko Nagakura
Anne Nishimura Morse is William and Helen Pounds Senior Curator of Japanese Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Anne E. Havinga is Estrellita and Yousuf Karsh Senior Curator of Photographs at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Awarded First Place in Coffee Table Books at the 59th Annual New England Book Show