Artists and the Disaster - Documentation in Progress -

October 13, 2012, to December 9, 2012

Installation view at Contemporary Art Gallery, Art Tower Mito  Photo:Yuzuru Nemoto

An exhibition configured to allow visitors to experience transitions in time
The Great East Japan Earthquake struck on March 11, 2011. While citizens organized various activities that offered aid and assistance to victims both inside and from outside the disaster zone, artists who make their livelihood through artistic expression also took action. This exhibition looks back on the actions and artworks produced by 23 artists that emerged as a result of the earthquake, tracing the ways in which their work unfolded between March 2011 and the present in chronological sequence.

Redefining the concept of “art”
The works of these artists include ingenious attempts at sludge removal, ongoing projects that contribute to the rebuilding of communities, documentary videos and photos that continuously record the situation in the disaster-stricken areas, and pieces dealing with problems and issues that emerged as a result of the catastrophe. Many of these encompass activities that were carried out by temporarily shelving one’s identity as an “artist”, as well as projects carried out without the expectation that they would later be exhibited as an artwork. The attitudes and actions of these artists represent a renewed questioning of the concept of art as established by modernity, and demonstrate the sort of role that art ought to play in society – perhaps more strongly and forcefully than ever before.

A focus on the “little situations”
Following the activities of these artists as a result of the earthquake, it soon became clear that a certain sense of conflict and hesitation lay beneath their ambitious projects. At the same time, there were several projects that adapted to local conditions, changing in content as time went by. The diversity of these approaches and the complex ways in which these experiences developed shed light on the various small-scale occurrences that emerged as a result of he disaster ¬– “little situations” rarely picked up by the mass media that seem to reflect our own sense of bewilderment and indecision. What has been on our minds since then? What role should the individual play in relation to the local community and society at large? What does it mean to be a citizen within society? And how have our thoughts and feelings about the disaster evolved since then?

An exhibition that generates memories and functions as a device for thinking
During the exhibition period, there will be a varied program of related events that will allow visitors to express their thoughts after having observed the unfinished and ongoing actions and projects of the various artists on display. There will be opportunities and spaces for people to have free and uninhibited conversations about these issues, and participatory hands-on workshops open to people of all ages will also be held. This exhibition is being held in the hope that these assorted events will serve as different entry points for each person to get involved, helping each of us to generate individual memories about the March 11, 2011 disaster, and prompting us to look back what happened and to reflect on what one should do in the future.


Ryoji Arai, Chim↑Pom, Ichiro Endo, Hikaru Fujii, Naoya Hatakeyama, Katsuhiko Hibino, Yoshiaki Kaihatsu, Tsubasa Kato, Jun Kitazawa, Haruka Komori + Natsumi Seo, Maki Miyashita, Takashi Murakami (MMIX Lab), NAKAJIMA Yuta×birdo flugas, Nishiko, Takehiko Sanada, Akira Takayama (Port B), Tanotaiga, Yuken Teruya, TOCHKA, Tsubaki Noboru, wah document, Fuyuki Yamakawa, Kenji Yanobe

Naoya Hatakeyama“Kesencho March 24,2012”2012

Kenji Yanobe“Torayan's Great Flying Ark Project” workshop, at Fukushima Prefectural Museum of Art, August 28, 2011 Photo: Miwa Ohba © Kenji Yanobe


Nishiko“Repairing Earthquake Project”2011-
Photo:Yuhki Yamamoto

Still from documentary film“Project FUKUSHIMA!”directed by Hikaru Fujii 2012

Tsubasa Kato“The Lighthouses - 11.3 PROJECT”2011

Maki Miyashita“give birth”2010‐ Higashimatsuhima, Miyagi 2011

Tanotaiga“Sludge Removed by Tanonteer”2011
Photo: Tanonteer

Yuken Teruya "Minding My Own Business" 2011

Fuyuki Yamakawa
(MarkI / Stratocaster-type, MarkII / Stratocaster-type(Left Handed)" 2011 Photo:Takaaki Soga



Artists and the Disaster - Documentation in Progress -


Contemporary Art Gallery




9:30-18:00 (no admittance after 17:30)


on Mondays


800yen/600yen for advance booking and group of more than 20 people
Free admission for under 15, seniors over 65, the disabled and one accompanying attendant
[One-year Pass]
1000yen: High Teen Pass "H.T.P." for youth between the age of 15 and 19
2500yen: Adult Pass for those aged 20 and over

Organized by

Mito Arts Foundation

Grants from

Zaidanhojin Jichi-sogo Center, The Kao Foundation for Arts and Sciences
The Great East Japan Earthquake Restoration Fund [Association for Corporate
Support of the Arts], Asahi Group Arts Foundation, Stroom Den Haag

Support from

Asahi Breweries,Ltd

Curated by

Yuu Takehisa (Curator, Contemporary Art Center, Art Tower Mito)

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Related program

Yoshiaki Kaihatsu, Daylily Art Circus

October 13 (Sat.), 2012, to October 14 (Sun.), 2012

Yoshiaki Kaihatsu“Daylily Art Circus”2011

Kaihatsu held displays of artworks and workshops while traveling from western Japan to the eastern part of the country in a truck filled with art. Proceeds from exhibition and workshop fees collected in both western Japan and the Kanto region was donated to disaster-stricken areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake. At schools, temporary housing facilities and other locations in the affected regions, he invited local people to enjoy art free of charge. These activities will be showcased in the Plaza of the Art Center.
Dates: Saturday 13 and Sunday 14, October, 13:00-16:00

Related program

Screening of documentary film Project FUKUSHIMA! directed by Hikaru Fujii+Cinema Philosophy Café @ Mito

October 20 (Sat.), 2012

still from documentary film“Project FUKUSHIMA!”directed by Hikaru Fujii 2012

Project FUKUSHIMA! is an ongoing project that prompts us to think about the various problems that the nuclear accident has produced through art and culture, and to transmit an awareness of the situation in Fukushima. The project is led by a group of people with links to Fukushima, such as musician Otomo Yoshihide. The documentary film Project FUKUSHIMA! will be screened, followed by a program called “cinema philosophy café” for participants to have conversations about the issues raised by this film, with Takahiro Nishimura (organizer of the Philosophy Café @ Sendai) as facilitator.

Related program

Ryoji Arai workshop

November 17 (Sat.), 2012

Ryoji Arai“MIRAIEHON”workshop
Courtesy of Tōhoku University of Art & Design
Photo:Motoki Koitabashi

Children’s book author Ryoji Arai, who has conducted workshops in the disaster-stricken areas in collaboration with the Tohoku University of Art and Design located in his native Yamagata, will be invited to give a drawing workshop. He will lead participants in producing work by looking back on their memories of the disaster, which then feed into the present and the future.
Date: Saturday, November 17 , 13:00-16:00
Venue: Workshop Room, Contemporary Art Gallery, Art Tower Mito
Target audience: Ages 6 and over
Capacity: 30 (reservation required)

Related program

Nishiko, Repairing Earthquake

production in public

October 13 (Sat.), 2012, to December 9 (Sun.), 2012

The artist will give a public demonstration during which she will repair objects destroyed in the earthquake, held in the gallery. Visitors are welcome to participate in the project.
Dates: Saturday, October 13 to Sunday, December 9, 2012 (except Tuesday)

Weekend Gallery Talk

October 27 (Sat.), 2012, to December 2 (Sun.), 2012

CAC (Contemporary Art Center) gallery volunteer talkers will lead you to explore the exhibition together.


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