Don't Follow the Wind

Don’t Follow the Wind, 'A Walk in Fukushima', 2016–ongoing, video. Installation view (2016) at Carriageworks for the 20th Biennale of Sydney. Courtesy the artists and Don’t Follow the Wind. Created for the 20th Biennale of Sydney. The presentation at the Biennale of Sydney is supported by Google Cultural Institute, Maspro Denkoh Corporation, and Thierry Porté. Photograph: Leila Joy
Don’t Follow the Wind, A Walk in Fukushima, 2016–ongoing, video. Installation view (2016) at Carriageworks for the 20th Biennale of Sydney. Courtesy the artists and Don’t Follow the Wind. Created for the 20th Biennale of Sydney. The presentation at the Biennale of Sydney is supported by Google Cultural Institute, Maspro Denkoh Corporation, and Thierry Porté. Photograph: Leila Joy

The participating curatorial collective Don’t Follow the Wind (Chim↑Pom, Kenji Kubota, Eva and Franco Mattes, Jason Waite) came into being through the exhibition project initiated by Japanese collective Chim↑Pom. On 11 March 2015, on the fourth anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that triggered the crisis at the nuclear power plant at Fukushima, the curators working with a group of 12 participating artists including Ai Weiwei, Aiko Miyanaga, Chim↑Pom, Grand Guignol Mirai, Nikolaus Hirsch and Jorge Otero-Pailos, Kota Takeuchi, Eva and Franco Mattes, Meiro Koizumi, Nobuaki Takekawa, Trevor Paglen, Taryn Simon, and others opened an inaccessible exhibition entitled ‘Don’t Follow the Wind’ inside the radioactive evacuated area surrounding the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant comprised of four venues – a home, a warehouse, a farm and a recreation centre. The project was named for the everyday actions and knowledge of an evacuee that became extraordinary as they fled south towards Tokyo after the disaster so as to avoid exposure to radiation borne on a northwesterly wind.

Comprising a series of projects presented at three venues – a warehouse, a farm with a home and an unopened restaurant, and a recreation centre – the exhibition ‘Don’t Follow the Wind’ exists within the radioactive evacuated area surrounding the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant, owned by TEPCO.

At the Embassy of Disappearance the curatorial collective, also known as Don’t Follow the Wind, present two new works, Information Counter, 2016, and A Walk in Fukushima, 2016. Reclaimed, decontaminated and transported to Australia, Information Counter comprises physical artefacts from the irradiated restaurant at the farm that had intended to open the same month as the disaster. The restaurant, its inauguration now perpetually deferred, has instead become a host for artworks that act as conceptual placeholders for the absent residents. Information Counter also includes a sample of uranium mined in Australia, alluding to the position of the country as a major exporter of nuclear fuel and the presence of Australian-sourced material in the reactor on the day of the disaster.

Seven municipalities lie within the 337-square-kilometre zone currently under restrictions. An estimated 24,000 people are not allowed to return to their homes, many living in temporary housing for the past 5 years. In total more than 100,000 people have been forced to evacuate in the wake of the disaster, with tens of thousands more fleeing, fearing the potential health implications. Given that it may be decades or more before zones within the Fukushima Prefecture are declared safe from radiation and residency restrictions are lifted, it is reasonable to consider that the exhibited artworks will remain unseen and inaccessible for the probable future. Information Counter acts as both a distribution point for information about Fukushima and a physical link to the exclusion zone.

Presented in parallel, A Walk in Fukushima is an immersive 360-degree video piece viewed through headsets made in workshops with the former residents. Filmed in and around the uninhabited radioactive area, the video presents an intimate experience of the inaccessible zone, the confidential venues for the exhibition ‘Don’t Follow the Wind’, and the power plant itself. The artworks, which are installed in the resident’s former homes and working spaces within the exclusion zone, are largely obscured by the figures of the artists and members of the curatorial team, retaining their inaccessibility and remaining shrouded and invisible to the outside world; highlighting the ongoing impact of the events of 11 March 2011, and ensuring that Fukushima will not be forgotten.

The invisible exhibition is dated 11 March 2015 – ongoing, commencing on the fourth anniversary of the disastrous Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan. It will open to the public when the exclusion zone is lifted. The project was initiated by Chimpom, and curated by Kenji Kubota, Jason Waite, and the artist duo Eva and Franco Mattes, with participating artists including Ai Weiwei, Aiko Miyanaga, Chim↑Pom, Grand Guignol Mirai, Nikolaus Hirsch and Jorge Otero-Pailos, Kota Takeuchi, Eva and Franco Mattes, Meiro Koizumi, Nobuaki Takekawa, Ahmet Öğüt, Trevor Paglen and Taryn Simon.

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