Hiroshi Sunairi: air
For Hiroshi Sunairi, being near the World Trade Center was frightening but the 2011 Tohoku earthquake, Tsunami and subsequent Fukushima radiation crisis was even more unnerving. This year, with his HD camcorder, Sunairi traveled to Fukushima and shot 8 hours of footage there. Sunairi, born in Hiroshima, went to the US at 18, and there, created art works based on Hiroshima and the atomic bombing, 9.11 and memory. [During his filming in Fukushima], he saw people living apparently carefree, without any protection, in places that are heavy with radiation. He says, “There is an enforced silence on people there–who are not given adequate information and knowledge.” Sunairi also observes that [despite their own atomic history], people in his hometown of Hiroshima seem indifferent to the situation in Fukushima situation. His aim is to make a film that will show what it’s like there [in which the images speak for themselves], without need for narration or explanation. Sunairi will make it into artistic documentary film and intends to submit to the film festivals in the world. -The Chugoku Shimbun http://www.chugoku-np.co.jp
It begins with a question, “Do you think the radiation is heavy here?”
This film was inspired by a composition by Toru Takemitsu, called “Air,” whose melodies capture a meta-narrative of this film, an uncertainty over the crowded streets of Tokyo’s colorful metropolis, which lingers in the city of Fukushima even more vividly.
“air” is an homage to Abbas Kiarostami and his Koker trilogy with its theme, the preciousness of life. As in Kiarostami’s films, “air” takes places in a taxi on the devastated roads in Fukushima after the nuclear disaster in 2011. The intimate conversations with a 66-year-old taxi driver wander through various topics about the current state of Fukushima, the 9.11 event, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, radiation and so on. “air” is not meant as comprehensive research on the situation in Fukushima, but it is an intimate testimony of an inescapable fact of life after disaster.
The shooting of “air” was done improvisationally within two weeks of my stay in Japan traveling from Tokyo, Fukushima to Hiroshima. While expecting to interview a taxi driver who’d drive me to different parts of Fukushima prefecture, actually meeting Mr. Yasuichi Tochitsubo was as random as catching the next cab at taxi stop. However, it is his character that gives joy to such heavy issues and we ended up bonding and laughing on the journey. Mr. Tochitsubo ended up telling me that I do not have to pay at all for a trip that is worth probably about $500 (traveling in a taxi is luxurious in Japan), since as a local resident he enjoyed me and perhaps my intention of discovering what it’s like in Fukushima now. Of course, I did pay $300–slightly lower than what it probably cost. It was his generosity that made the film alive.
We traveled through radiation heavy zones to places where we had no idea of how bad the radiation was. Of course, I forgot to bring my friend’s Geiger counter that day, and without it, there’s no way of knowing radiation levels, since most of the places were totally unmonitored by the government or police and had no sign or alert. This is a silence forced on citizens that I wanted to express, silence of not knowing, silence of not having ample information, for though we cannot see radiation at all with our eyes, it can very well be in the air.
As I came back to my hometown in Hiroshima, I noticed the vast difference in mood from eastern to western Japan, though Fukushima and Hiroshima are both cites that have experienced nuclear disaster. In Hiroshima, I have been working on various projects with Dr. Horiguchi, a caretaker of trees that survived the atomic bombing and when I am there, I usually shoot some footage of him for future film projects. As I was filming him and Yuso who is growing one of these trees, I was struck by a vision, a connection possibly to draw an imaginative gesture of hope in my film to an unsolvable situation.
Talking about Fukushima through film
…Being near the World Trade Center was frightening , but the 2011 Tohoku earthquake, Tsunami and subsequent Fukushima radiation crisis was even more unnerving. This year, with his HD camcorder, Hiroshi Sunairi traveled to Fukushima and shot 8 hours of footage there. Sunairi, who was born in Hiroshima, went to the US at 18, and there, created art works based on Hiroshima and the atomic bombing, 9.11 and memory. He saw people in Fukushima going about their daily lives without any protection in places that are heavy with radiation. He said, “There is an enforced silence on the people because inadequate information and knowledge are given to them.” Sunairi observed that, despite their own history, people in his hometown, Hiroshima, seem indifferent to Fukushima’s situation. Out of his footage from Fukushima, Suaniri aims to make a film that will show what it’s like being there without narration or explanation. He will make it into artistic documentary film and intends to submit to the film festivals in the world.
Eriko Takahashi: PEACE CRANE (3.11.2011)
Japanese Echizen paper, ink-jet, hot stamp press, linen thread, silver cords, 15.5 x 12 x 2 (cm), closed. Edition of 18. Designed, written and bound by the artist in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake, March 11, 2011
Silver wave crashed
Swept into darkness
May peace cranes
Fly over the horizon
Bring sunrise to silence
This book was exhibited in Delaware Valley Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers Exhibition in Philadelphia and Venice, Italy, and was awarded the purchase prize for the Oberlin College Art Library. It will be included in 1000 Artists’ Books. (May 2012, Rockport Publishers/Quarry Books)