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Mon 19 May 2014 16:00 BBC Radio 4

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 30 May 2013

Godzilla, the giant green lizard which levels Tokyo skyscrapers with a sweep of his enormous tail, was the response of Japan's film makers in the 1950s to the national trauma of the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In the wake of 2011's Tsunami, the nation's artists have been similarly inventive in turning the disaster into art. The "post 3/11 movement" takes inspiration from the devastating images of flooded cities, smoking nuclear reactors and grief stricken victims which emerged after the earthquake and tsunami.

Mark Rickards meets artists and musicians who have turned the disaster into art, and asks whether they have found a suitable response to the devastating events which shook Japan.

27-year-old installation artist Tsubasa Kato volunteered to visit Fukushima to help clear up the rubble. With the help of 300 local residents who had lost their homes, Kato recently constructed a three storey lighthouse from the rubble of ruined houses and schools. The lighthouse now stands looking out over the sea, as a symbol of what happened in March 2011.

The performance artists Chim Pom, a six person collective, donned protective radioactive suits and visited the devastated Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, holding up symbolic referees' red cards in front of the cracked dome of the nuclear reactor. Videoed for a performance art piece they admitted they were frightened of the radiation levels but "wanted to respond to these life changing events by placing ourselves in the middle of the radiation zone."

The video artist Kota Takeuchi took a job at the devastated nuclear plant. His work includes a video which shows a worker pointing an accusing finger at the video camera which keeps watch over the site. Later he called a press conference to harangue Tepco, operator of the plant about the conditions of workers inside.

With contributions from Tsubasa Kato, Chim Pom, Kota Takeuchi amongst others, Mark Rickards explores Japan's artistic response to the tragedy.


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