Saturday, 1 June 2013

Tadasu Takamine exhibits in the Netherlands

The Eastern Japan earthquake disaster which occured on March 11th, 2011 brought on the accident of the Fukushima nuclear power plant’s number one reactor. Ever since, a vague sense of anxiety regarding radioactivity has grown among us. This invisible anxiety is what the Japanese contemporary artist and stage director Takamine Tadasu has made visible through film works. These works are currently being displayed in Utrecht, at Casco’s exhibition Japan Syndrome – Utrecht Version.

Takamine brings contemporary problems to the surface in installations, media art and performances; his work is highly appreciated not only in Japan but around the world. Take for instance the work “God Bless America” (2002), a video work which takes for its starting point the criticism towards America’s forcing its way into a war in Iraq after 9/11. The film is produced in clay stop-motion animation. In it, a figure tries to beat an enormous creature, made of two tons of modeling clay, into singing “God Bless America”.

Tadasu Takamine, Japan Syndrome – Yamaguchi Version, 
video. ca. 30 min, still, 2012. Courtesy of Casco
The current exhibition is being held at two different locations: at the first, the video installation “Japan Syndrome –Utrecht Version” is on display. The “Japan Syndrome” is a series of dialogues re-enacted from the script Takamine created, based on exchanges about the fear of radioactive pollution and the influences of the nuclear disaster, which took place between local shop owners and performers, who joined the project by open invitation. There are three versions, of Yamaguchi, Kansai (Kyoto and Osaka) and Mito; and these three works are being displayed together at the Utrecht Version.

Opening “Japan Syndrome –Utrecht Version”
When asked about the safety of a product, there were shop employees who would recommend produce from areas far from Fukushima, or fish imported from outside Japan, and sympathize with customers about their apprehensions regarding radioactive pollution. However, most would reply, even while showing a glimpse of their own anxiety and fear, “it passed inspection, so it’s okay,” or “it’s a substance that’s in the air anyway, so there’s no problem,” and so on, repeating claims from national and regional safety declarations and scientists. In each video, the feeling is present that although everyone has their own doubts, you are obliged to maintain, in passive endorsement, that it is “safe” like the government says, like everyone says – for otherwise, you face the pro-active, unspeakable “danger”.

The second location, the Casco shop, is displaying the work “Nuclear Family” (2012). Ranging from the ground floor to the exhibition room below, peaceful photographs of Takamine’s family life are on view, alongside the history of nuclear tests throughout the world. Behind this peaceful life, the work hints, is nothing but extensive amounts of nuclear testing, and the truth that Japan’s peace has been protected all along by America’s nuclear weapons. Just then, on April 9th, the NPDI (Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative), consisting of a total of ten countries which do not possess nuclear weapons, including Japan, Australia, and the Netherlands, held a foreign ministerial conference in the Dutch city of The Hague. To discuss the future of nuclear power and its generation, surely the problems which were invisible until now need to be taken into consideration. It is these issues that Takamine’s work aims to make transparent, through the power of his art.

Tadasu Takamine, Nuclear Family. 1989
photo from installation
Takamine Tadasu: Japan Syndrome Utrecht Version is open until July 6 (closed on Mondays).


Nieuwekade 213-215
3511 RW Utrecht
The Netherlands
Casco shop
Voorstraat 88
3512AT Utrecht
The Netherlands
Opening times:
Tuesdays – Sundays 12:00 – 18:00
Closed on Mondays