The exhibition After Hiroshimabrings together international artists in a joint and multifaceted reflection on archetypal imagery related to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – respectively on August 6th and August 9th, 1945 –, and its reworking in contemporary art and cinematography.
The exhibition intends visual arts as an exploratory instrument of the collective subconscious, as well as an active laboratory for reflection on trauma, in perfect correspondence with the anniversary of one of the most controversial episodes in history. The exhibition focuses on works by directors and artists who, through the use of different media (cyanotypes, paintings, collages, photographic manipulations and video installations), rework these images, giving them meaningful readings: conceptually starting from the tragic events of Japan, the exhibition path guides the audience through a universal polyfocal narrative about nuclear and its legacies.
Three main images shocked and shook the world public opinion at the blast of the atomic bombs in Japan: the blinding radioactive lightning emanated from the explosion; the imposing and terrifying atomic cloud – or mushroom cloud –, which extended in the sky; the shadows – called nuclear shadows – projected on walls and roads, due to the violent radioactivity that overwhelmed bodies and objects, dissolving them into nothing. These images have become archetypes of fear in the worldwide imagery, and stimulated artists and film directors to draw from them a personal re-elaboration, with the intent of exorcising their deadly and destructive nature.
American artist Elin o’Hara Slavick, with her series of cyanotypes, re-illuminates those everyday objects that were hit by radiations: fragments of tile, cups and bottles fused by the heat of the atomic lightning, while British artist Andrew Cole captures this flash of light for absence, through an empty space surrounded by dark and sharp brushstrokes that refers to the black rain of death that poured over the city;
The black rain was another image that strongly affected the post-atomic generations’ consciousness. For this reason, some extracts from the cinematographic works “Black Rain” (Kuroi Ame, 1989) by Kaneto Shindo and “Children of Hiroshima” (1952) by Shohei Imamura, are included in this exhibition. These works face in an evocative, albeit realistic manner, the representation of the day of the explosion, and it is possible to trace all the archetypal images above mentioned.
Deimion van der Sloot, from the Netherlands, represents the atomic lightning from a scientific point of view, with a minimalist and “punk” approach through the use of stickers, in a circular and repetitive motion of colored spots, while Slovenian artist Uroš Weinberger intends to denounce media strategies that distort information and images, hijacking viewers towards attractive aesthetics and discarding them from the cruelty of events, through a strange and appealing color use.
Israeli Daniel Wechsler reinterprets chromatic and sound components of a military video portraying the release of the weapon on the city of Hiroshima, in a climax of psychedelic and hallucinated colors. On the other hand, the Canadian artist Gordon Belray recreates the exact instant of the incident, presenting in a single photographic manipulation the frames from the original military film of the Fat Boy dropping on Nagasaki, shot by a United States Air Force bomber of Company B-29.
In his video series, Australian Kailum Graves explores the profound impact of the nuclear explosion, focusing on the atomic cloud image: quickly become iconic and degenerated into a new atomic aesthetic of the familiar and the banal, the image of the “mushroom cloud”, detached from the historical context it refers to, has thus acquired a component called by the artist himself «nuclear kitsch».
Even today, the material memory of what the bombs provoked lasts: dark and silent, imprinted on walls and streets of the cities, the nuclear shadows are a permanent witness to the destruction and the pain that followed. Elin o’Hara Slavick ‘s cyanotypes create an invisible bridge between the hibakusha generations, while Luca Federici conceptually reworks the atomic shadow image, through the primitive representation of the spot, which has an abstract power, and evokes atavistic fears. The artist «plays» with a subject that even today requires to be plumbed and exorcised in its terrifying components.
Some film contributions belonging to the new wave of Japanese horror, linked to a renewed interest in the shadows iconography that incarnates the tragedy of Hiroshima trauma, find their place at the end of the exhibition. Kurosawa Kiyoshi is one of the major exponents of the genre.
Last but not least, Mary Kavanagh combines different video-photographic materials, examines the history of the atomic and suggests a reflection on the resulting historical fracture.
After Hiroshima thanks to: Chiara Isadora Artico (Art Director), Iacopo Russo, Isabella Vincenti (Curatorial and Production), Andrea Tessari, Edoardo Zanchetta, Riccardo Zaniol (Visual and Graphics), Joshua Cesa (Multimedia), Daniela Madonna (Press), Isabella Vincenti (Social Media), and a special thanks to all the operators, supporters and volunteers who participated in the allestiment of the new gallery, especially Tancredi Artico, Davide Maiutto, Federica Casati, Lucia Bortolotti, Giulia Pettenuzzo. We give thanks to the Maypole Fundation, to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, to the UNESCO and to the Treviso Municipality. Thanks to the technical support by KuKi Link, HG Trust and with the media partner of Imagazine. Event co-produced with Current.
More than seventy years after the bombardment of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the still unexplored imaginary of the atomic.
agosto 09, 2017