Friday, July 29, 2011

Art as a Response to Tragedy and a Catalyst for Change

This story is about two related paintings painted 50 years apart. Both were inspired by nuclear tragedies in Japan. The first painting depicts the devastation wrought by the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. The painting crossed Japanese cultural taboos so strong that the artist believed that only Mexico, where life and death are integrated in culture and art, could receive this work. 
The second painting was inspired by the uncontrolled spread of radiation from the crippling of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant by the earthquake and tsunami in March, 2011. It movingly relates back to the first one.

The Story of Taro Okamoto's Myth of Tomorrow

First, a backgrounder article in a November 18, 2008 Time Magazine article on Taro Okamoto's Myth of Tomorrow. It explains why it was painted and how it ended up in the Shibuya, Japan, train station. Taro Okamoto

The Story of the Atomic Artists

Second, you might enjoy a PBS Frontline video shown in July, 2011 about a group of young artists who are struggling against cultural norms to become a crucible of grief and transformation in light of the failure of the nuclear plants at Fukishima. The Atomic Artists 

You'll see a painting they created about the Fukishima meltdown that fits perfectly into the bottom right corner of Okamoto's painting in a spot he left blank in 1968 to describe the unknown future of nuclear power. Moving.

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