By Rielly Wieners
“A Body In Fukushima” found me in crossfire between admiration and despair, beauty and wreckage, and individualism and environmentalism. The photographs mesh two art forms—dance and photography—the first of which depends purely on movement while the latter is categorized by a lack thereof. This curious combination captures motion and emotion as the singular dancer is swallowed by enormity of the environment.
The Fukushima tragedy was caused by two main components – the natural disasters (the earthquake and tsunami) and the malfunctioning of human equipment (nuclear plant stationed on the island). The photos themselves speak volumes about this interaction between humans and the Earth around us. In every photograph, there seem to be aspects of the natural realm, the manmade realm, and the devastation that occurs when the two cross paths. While some photos show large, concrete structures or manmade homes that seem to dominate the nature around them, others display vast grasslands and farmlands that appear to completely overwhelm the remnants of human life. One picture shows an abandoned road beginning to be covered by uncontainable grass. Another focuses on Eiko sprawled across a huge abandoned train station, with nothing but a massive, useless structure and the bright blue sky behind her. The exhibition proceeds in a fashion where human influence on the Earth fluctuates, mimicking the give and take exchange between humans and the world. The photographs ask questions such as “what would the earth be if we never interfered?” and “how much is too much human interference?”
Every photograph Eiko dances in is vastly different from the last—from the expression on her face, the placement of her body within the frame, the components of earth and human, and the level of destruction. However, one aspect always remains the same—it is always completely devoid of other humans. Of course this is due to the quarantine of the area after the nuclear plant malfunctioned and pumped potent radioactive poison into the land, air and sea. Eiko’s body is lonely. It is in agony—both emotional and physical from the radiation’s destruction of the land and of her own being. She cowers, she limps, she cries. Her posture could be interpreted as the Earth’s pain, as well as the people’s pain. She is often draped in vibrant clothes, starkly contrasting the browns and greens and blues of the world. She is human, she is natural, she has come from biology, but she is herself is draped in manufactured goods, representing the intrinsic intertwinement of the synthetic and the environmental.
The land is empty with nothing but glimpses of what humans have left behind. The only photographs without Eiko feature towering piles of radioactive bicycles, televisions and microwaves. These goods are tainted, with no place to go. They are left to sit, a nasty stain of human destruction, in an abandoned area, which may never be inhabited in the way it was before again. In these final photographs, a shift is made. Eiko’s body is no longer lonely, but Fukushima is lonely. It is dead, with only tiny glimmers of the hustle and bustle of the past. People once thrived here and worked peacefully off the land for modest salaries and goods. But within Eiko’s project, we are reminded of a time where we have taken advantage of a world that is good to us for money. We have traded natural for nuclear, and with it we have traded a piece of our land, and Fukushima will never be repaid.