Fukushima, ‘Don’t Follow the Wind’

Don’t Follow The Wind – An exhibition in the Fukushima Exclusion Zone

2015 – ?

What can art do in an ongoing catastrophe, when destruction and contamination have made living impossible? Don’t Follow the Wind is an ongoing exhibition taking place inside the restricted Fukushima Exclusion Zone, the radioactive evacuated area surrounding the Daiichi Nuclear Power – owned by TEPCO – established in the wake of the 2011 disaster that contaminated the area separating residents from their homes, land, and community.

New works developed by participating Japanese and international artists are being installed in the zone at four sites lent by former residents – a home, warehouse, farm and a recreation center – all of which are contaminated and were evacuated immediately after the disaster.

As the Fukushima Exclusion Zone remains inaccessible to the public, the exhibition will be ongoing but largely invisible – a condition akin to radiation itself – only to be viewed in the future, if and when it becomes safe once again for the residents to return. The exhibition opened on 11 March 2015 but there is no clear timeline for public access to the sites, perhaps 3 years, 10 years, or decades – a period of time that could stretch beyond our lifetime.

Some of the projects developed for Don’t Follow the Wind

Among the abandoned homes in the Zone, there is one building which remains lit. The project of Ai Weiwei entailed installing a solar panel and a lighting system to illuminate one house twice a day in the vacant zone. A reminder of the life that was present and which could potentially occur again.

The artist Kota Takeuchi, a former nuclear clean-up worker in the Fukushima Exclusion Zone, photographed himself in one of the exhibition sites wearing clothes that were left by a resident in the evacuation. The images of him in the garments are installed in the home for future visitors to feel as if they became ‘time travelers’ between the pre-disaster clothes, the contaminated period of the image, and their future-present.

Trevor Paglen collapses nuclear histories. Encasing a chunk of trinitite, a glassy rock formed during the first atomic bomb test in the desert of New Mexico containing shards of the bomb and radionuclides fused with the desert sand, in cube of glass formed from melted broken windows found in the Fukushima Exclusion Zone.

Non-Visitor Center

Since the artworks installed in the Fukushima Exclusion Zone might not ever leave the Zone – as with the passing of time they could become contaminated – a traveling exhibition called “Non-Visitor Center” is being developed as migrating outpost to host “interpretations” of the projects in Fukushima made by the artists. The works can only be accessed through descriptions, perceptions and data, including responses from former residents of Fukushima.

The Non-Visitor Center will preview at The Watari Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan on 19 September 2015.

About the title

The title of the exhibition Don’t Follow the Wind comes from a life-saving account by a Fukushima resident currently collaborating on the project. During the evacuation, the man (a hobby fisherman) was advised by a friend working at the power plant to travel in the opposite direction to the wind carrying nuclear fallout material. Evaluating the wind direction whilst fleeing with his family, the man changed his direction contrary to advice from official Japanese government sources and successfully drove his family to safety.


Project Committee Members: Chim↑Pom (Artist), Kenji Kubota (Curator, Associate Professor at the University of Tsukuba), Noi Sawaragi (Art Critic, Professor at Tama Art University), Kota Takeuchi (Artist), Rika Fujiki (Director of MUJIN-TO Production), Yutaro Midorikawa (Art Director), Yuko Yamamoto (Director of Yamamoto Gendai).

Advisors: Kentaro Ikegami (National Coalition Against Censorship), Kazuhiro Onuki (Former Director, Tomioka Library), Fumio Nanjo (Director, Mori Art Museum), Kenichi Kondo (Curator, Mori Art Museum), Misa Shin (Misa Shin Gallery), Seiichi Yoshino (Art Collector), Carroll / Fletcher Gallery (London).


Participating Artists: Ai Weiwei, Miyanaga Aiko, Chim↑Pom, Grand Guignol Mirai, Nikolaus Hirsch and Jorge Otero-Pailos, Takeuchi Kota, Eva and Franco Mattes, Koizumi Meiro, Takekawa Nobuaki, Ahmet Ögüt, Trevor Paglen, Taryn Simon

Curators: Kenji Kubota, Eva and Franco Mattes, Jason Waite

Initiator: Chim↑Pom

Drawing by a former resident of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster
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