A Body in Fukushima at Wesleyan University
photo by William Johnston

A Body in Fukushima at Wesleyan University

  • Thursday, February 5 – Sunday, May 25, 2015
  • Wesleyan University
  • Mansfield Freeman Gallery, Center for East Asian Studies: Tuesday, February 3 – Sunday, May 24


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    A Body in Fukushima exhibits a haunting series of photographs based on the collaboration of internationally renowned dancer/choreographer, Eiko, Visiting Artist in Dance and East Asian Studies, with William Johnston, Professor of History and East Asian Studies. Eiko has a thirteen-year performance history at the Center for the Arts and she and Johnston have been collaborating for the past eight years as co-teachers of courses on the history of the atomic bombings of Japan and on environmental issues resulting from mountaintop removal mining. In 2014, Eiko and Johnston made two extended visits to the areas surrounding the nuclear reactors at Fukushima, which were damaged during the massive earthquake and tsunami that hit the northeast Japanese coast in 2011. Only recently have people been allowed to visit these radiation-damaged areas, where access is limited to daylight hours only. The former residents still remain in exile due to the ongoing contamination.

    Following the abandoned train lines, Eiko and Johnston visited the empty stations and their neighborhoods, places that formerly bustled with life and people. Over three years since the initial disaster occurred, the buildings hit by the tsunami remain in their damaged state and those that survived without damage sit in a no-man’s land due to the radiation, with vines growing over the tracks.  In these locations, Eiko embodies bitter grief, anger and remorse, sometimes in vulnerable gestures and at other times dancing fiercely. The photographs by Johnston capture Eiko’s evanescent gestures as well as the evolving landscape.  As Eiko explains, “By placing my body in these places, I thought of the generations of people who used to live there.”

    The photography exhibition, A Body in Fukushima was co-commissioned by Wesleyan University and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia. This project was made possible in part by funds from the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, the Japan Foundation, the Center for the Arts Creative Campus Initiative and the Office of Academic Affairs, Wesleyan University. A Body in Fukushima is also exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Art, Philadelphia, and was shown at the Galleries of Contemporary Art, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.