Title: The paintings that won’t reach Fukushima
Source: The Mainichi Daily News
Author: Takao Yamada, Expert Senior Writer
Date: Jan 23, 2012
[...] the Ben Shahn exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in Hayama, Kanagawa Prefecture [...] will continue until Jan. 29 [...] but something I heard at the information counter surprised me: The exhibition was heading to Nagoya, Okayama and Fukushima, but 70 items on loan from six museums in the United States would only go as far as Okayama. In other words, Fukushima would not see them.
What was the reason for this? When I asked the Fukushima Prefectural Museum of Art, the answer was just as expected: because of radiation.
From the outset, a certain U.S. museum made it clear that its works were not to go to Fukushima. The other five had supported the idea of making a decision at the last moment. An official from Fukushima sought understanding on bringing the works to the city, saying it would make an effort to release radiation measurement data, but it didn’t receive a favorable response. With the museum sticking to its position, no progress was being made, so organizers reportedly gave up on taking the 70 works to Fukushima. [...]
To me, this turn of events is strangely ironic. [...]
When Fukushima Prefectural Museum of Art curator Yasuko Araki, who wrote a commentary on Ben Shahn in the January issue of Geijutsu Shincho, was asked “What work did you most want to come to Fukushima?” she replied, “Liberation” (1945), a work which is kept at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
The work depicts children swinging from a metal pole in a devastated area. Contradicting the title, the faces of the children are dark and empty. A damaged building and rubble lie in the background. The theme is the liberation of Paris and the end of the war.
“I think this is like Fukushima now,” she says. The children, who look innocent, are hit with sharp anxiety from their completely changed surroundings. There is indeed something similar in these two scenes.
Read the report here
Published: January 23rd, 2012 at 6:34 am ET