Thursday, 28 June 2012

Distance

Here's an oddity: the pottery pictured is made from radioactive clay from near Fukushima. Artist Hilda Hellstrom, graduate from the Royal College of Art in London, came to Japan and took the soil from Naoto Matsumura's farm in Fukushima (working alongside Matsumura) and took it back to the UK to make the series. Strange that UK customs allowed such transportation – even within Japan, not many prefectures are being helpful in accepting (admittedly very much larger amounts of) debris to dispose of, siting concerns for their own populatons. I like Hellstrom's sentiment, which brings some attention and thought to the state of the clay (even if in artspeak like "inhabit the narrative") – and which also raisies the contrary question that perhaps the soil is actually mostly "safe".

However, recently, for a photo book I'm working on, I met a potter from a neighbouring prefecture to Fukushima who sources his clay locally and, of course, works with his hands in that clay daily. He had been concerned about how radioactive the clay was – if it was irradiated he might have to source non-local clay, which was against the point of his working locally, or he may even have had to consider moving. But tests showed the soil was safe. So, as I said, I sympathise with, even admire, Hellstrom's aims, but compared to the daily lives of those nearby, is there some parallel in her method to "parachute journalism", where journalists drop in, report and leave? Is this actually "parachute art"?

via fastcodesign

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