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Fukushima Lingers On in New Art Exhibition

20 artists address the Fukushima disaster, radiation, and nuclear energy in 'The Radiants' at Bortolami Gallery in New York City.

by Emerson Rosenthal
Mar 11 2015, 3:30pm

Sigmar Polke, Ohne Titel, Executed in 1992. 10 cibachrome prints. Images courtesy Bortolami x Green Tea Gallery

The ground shook four years ago today, sending a tsunami in the direction of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. Now, to coincide with the anniversary of the Tōhoku earthquake and its aftermath, UNITED BROTHERS and Jacob King have curated a show of new and historical work at Bortolami x Green Tea Gallery, that brings together 20 artists whose works either directly or indirectly address the Fukushima disaster, radiation, and nuclear energy. 

From ghastly, green photogaphs Sigmar Polke created by bringing Uranium ore together with photo-sensitive paper, to Enrico Baj's paintings from the eerily prescient Arte Nucleare movement, to new works including Ei Arakawa's floor lamps modeled after the Fukushima nuclear reactors post-incident, and Jay Chung & Q Takeki Maeda's painting created using a radiation-absorbing Nano Prussian Blue pigment, The Radiants represents a cross-section of art influenced by what is often called the "silent killer" following nuclear events. Seen here are drawings Tatsuo Ikeda made in the wake of the Lucky Dragon nuclear fallout incident of 1954, a painting the Japanese Chim↑Pom collective “added” without permission to an allegorical Hiroshima mural in Tokyo’s Shibuya subway station, and a new work from Amy Sillman which references dreams about encounters with radiation take center stage. 

While the gallery is closed today (along with its website) as a symbolic announcement of Don't Follow the Wind, a "conceptually inaccessible" international upcoming art show taking place in the evacuated exclusion zones in Fukushima, the show is a fascinating, visceral investigation into the widespread effects of nuclear material on global culture. For anyone interested in art that takes on humanity's longest-lasting creation, radiation, full-force, The Radiants is a must-view. 

Ei Arakawa, Nuclear Lanterns (Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1 to 4), 2015. Wood, paper, acrylic paint, light bulbs and electric cords

J Cheung & Q Takeki Maeda, March Painting, 2015. Nano Prussian Blue pigment on canvas

Michael Smith, Mike Builds a Shelter, 1985. Video transferred to DVD

Sam Lewitt, Test Subject A2 Fine, 2010. Helicopter pilot’s helmet, Arizona Test Dust® ISO 12103-1, PTI ID:. 10717F, Batch 16, Aug 2010, photomount, adhesive vinyl lettering

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