Artist Su Grierson

Reports from Fukushima

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‘Ghost Town’, photo by and copyright Su Grierson

Wallace Heim writes:

Artist Su Grierson has been sending updates to ecoartscotland on her 10-week residency in Kitakata, Fukushima Province, Japan. Su emphasises that she is there as an artist, not a journalist, and she is only able to report what she is told, often through translation, and what she sees herself without external verification.

Su’s reports evoke the everyday life of those living with the continuing effects of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters in stories of rescue, luck and tragedy.

Two excerpts:

19 February
Su visits the Scottish artist Aenaes Wilder and they drive to the coast north from Kitikata, an area decimated by the earthquake and tsunami.

‘Aenaes was keen to revisit the area which still holds horror images and a memory of the smell that he was still needing to come to terms with … He told me the story of how only one small town survived undamaged. Many years ago the Mayor of this town had insisted on building the sea defence wall many meters higher than anywhere else had even considered. He was laughed at and his wall was the subject of jokes throughout his lifetime. After 11 March his town was the only one in the area where not a single person died. The very next day the local people began laying flowers on his grave.’ more

11 February
The Director of Minamisouma City Museum guides Su and other artists through the area nearest to the nuclear disaster site.

‘We carried radiation monitors in the car (you can buy them in the Home Centre)…
Miles of empty houses including whole villages with cars, lorries and tractors left abandoned because they are too contaminated to be moved. The ghost towns with their traffic lights still working are an eerie and disturbing sight especially in near blizzard conditions. Houses of all sizes are left abandoned with police patrol cars driving round as protection. These black-and-white cars with their silent red rotating beacons add an almost holocaust atmosphere as they glide around the empty roads…

The scale of all this is so huge it is only by seeing it that any idea of scale can really be imagined. I was told that in this Province there are 100,000 refuges and 200,000 in the next Province and there are more in many other areas.’  more

The residency, involving four artists, is working towards an exhibition with the Fukushima Prefectural Museum of Art on the theme Spirit of the North.
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