101st Annual College Art Association Conference Paper

Chim↑Pom reenact their “100 Kiai” (100 Cheers). Photo courtesy Gadabout.

February 15th I will be giving a paper on Disaster and Creativity panel at the 101st Annual CAA Conference. Here is the short abstract:

“Between Awe and Anger: Young Japanese Artists Respond to Tohoku and Fukushima”

Artistic responses to the twin disasters that struck Northeastern Japan in March of 2011 span the spectrum from aestheticizing the awesome forces of nature to condemnation of human ineptitude and industrial-political collusion. Chihiro Kabata’s series of large-scale paintings depict glistening black water ripples washing back dimly after a climactic surge in which so many lives were instantly obliterated by the wall of murky water.

A different response to the man-made and still ongoing disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is by the Tokyo-based collective Chim↑Pom, whose clandestine insertion of the smoking Fukushima reactor into Taro Okamoto’s 1969 anti-nuclear mural at Tokyo’s Shibuya station landed them in legal trouble. In contrast to Kabata’s existentialist awe at the omnipotence of nature, Chim↑Pom’s reaction is a social critique. Their focus is the mismanagement of atomic power. Yet, ultimately, both Kabata and Chim↑Pom contribute to forming the collective memory of the disasters.

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