A Body In Fukushima: William Johnston and Eiko Otake - A Conversation With the Artists

A Body In Fukushima: William Johnston and Eiko Otake

Collection: Academics, Events, Faculty

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A Body in Fukushima is a haunting series of color photographs and videos presented in a groundbreaking exhibition across all three of Wesleyan’s galleries. Last year, dancer-choreographer Eiko Otake and photographer-historian William Johnston followed abandoned train tracks through desolate stations into eerily vacant towns and fields in Fukushima, Japan. Following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, the explosions of the Daiichi nuclear plant made the area uninhabitable. Sometimes in vulnerable gestures and at other times in a fierce dance, Eiko embodies grief, anger, and remorse. Mr. Johnston’s crystalline images capture her with the cries of the Fukushima landscapes. “By placing my body in these places,” she says, “I thought of the generations of people who used to live there. I danced so as not to forget.” A project of witness, remembrance, and empathy, A Body in Fukushima grapples with the reality of human failure. As Mr. Johnston writes, “By witnessing events and places, we actually change them and ourselves in ways that may not always be apparent but are important.”

William Johnston is Professor of History and East Asian Studies at Wesleyan, and Eiko Otake is Visiting Artist in the Dance Department and the College of East Asian Studies.

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