Exhibit showcases pictures of aftermath of Japan tsunami

Dec. 08, 2014

Audrey Jensen
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The 2011 Tohoku Earthquake was one of the largest earthquakes ever to hit the coast of Japan.

With a 9.0 magnitude and a tsunami with waves reaching up to 40 meters, an attempt to cool down the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant resulted in the evacuation of every person within a 20 kilometer radius of the plant.

The “A Body in Fukushima” exhibit features digital photos of dancer and artist Eiko Otake. The photos were taken by Wesleyan University professor and photographer William Johnston. As part of the opening of the exhibit, students from UCCS and CC performed a “delicious movement” style dance.

According to GOCA art director Daisy McConnell, delicious movement dancing is very improvisational, letting your body respond to the space you are in.

Each wall of photos displays Otake in different positions at train stations that were affected and evacuated due to the 2011 disaster.

Otake described her positions of movement as something that were spontaneous and developed throughout her career as a dancer.

“It’s not just a movement of body, dance is a visual art,” she said. “In that sense, it’s how I decide to dress, where I sit, where I start, how I move from position A to position B. The visual work is only a glimpse.”

Johnston and Otake decided to take photos twice, once in January and again in July.

Johnston explained that in January him and Otake were coincidently in Japan and decided to start taking the photos while they were there.

“The collaboration in a way is almost silent. We don’t say that much. She has a sense of how I work when I’m shooting and I have a sense of how she works,” Johnston said. “She just goes someplace and puts the costume together, then I just look for the spots.”

Otake had another reason to return to the area.

“It almost took me a whole visit to be able to deal with it. I was totally immobilized out of the anger and emotion,” Otake said.

Otake had visited the damaged site for the fi rst time in August 2011. She said that by the second and third time she visited, she was ready to create an artistic piece.

“Human nature is so strange, even in the worst condition you kind of get used to it,” she said.

Going back a second time allowed Otake and Johnston to see the effects of the seasons on the disaster sites.

The exhibit displays maps of Japan showing the locations they traveled to when taking photos. There are GPS coordinates on the map that can be plugged in to Google so that visitors can see the exact locations.

Otake and Johnston had to avoid certain areas of the site. Johnston said they could only be at certain train stations for a limited amount of time due to radiation and evacuation. They were only allowed to be at these sites during the day.

In the middle of the exhibit stands a topless black box that has projecting images on the inside to view. One of the walls near the back of the gallery will also be a slideshow of pictures already in the exhibit as well as extra pictures that are not displayed as prints.

“What I want people to see is … a human body with the knowledge of nuclear radiation and why it happened, and how it happened,” said Otake.

The exhibit is open now through Feb. 14, 2015, but will be closed for the holidays from Dec. 21, 2014 to Jan. 6, 2015.

“A Body in Fukushima” can be visited Wednesday through Saturday from Noon-5 p.m. at GOCA 121, located at 121 S. Tejon St. in downtown Colorado Springs.

 The Lowdown

What: “A Body in Fukushima”

Where: GOCA 1420

When: Now through Feb. 14 Wed – Sat Noon to 5 p.m. Closed Dec. 21 to Jan. 6

How much: Free