Chim↑Pom on Fukushima: “Real Times”

This posting is long overdue since the related exhibition took place over one month ago, in late May, but I left Tokyo three days after the earthquake, one day after I learned about the radiation leak, and in the time that followed I never got a chance to write about this remarkable show.

At the base of what became the Real Times exhibition is the collective’s visit to the stricken nuclear plant—the daredevils embarked on their trip, as volunteers, when the rest of the traffic around the reactors was outbound.

ChimPom returned to Tokyo with a collection of videos and a resolve to show the significance of the events in the north.  The infamous “Shibuya mural” episode was reported in the BBC, although without naming the group. In a move that would make Banksy himself look tame, the ChimPom amended (or defaced, depending on one’s point of view) the giant Taro Okamoto mural located in the middle of Shibuya Station. The well-known eerie representation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings was given an “update” on nuclear dangers with a pasted image that embedded the crippled plant into the mural. Needless to say Tokyo police did not allow the update to stay up for long. Here is the video of the mural, the ChimPom addition is at the lower right, next to the escalators:

Following this, the Mujin-to productions, ChimPom’s managing gallery, produced an unusual show that lasted only five days (May 20th through 25), but was was attended by over 3000(!) people. My friends who stayed in Tokyo and attended the show unanimously hailed it as one of the best they have seen.

To be fair, ChimPom were not the only artist group to engage the Fukushima disaster, the New-Methodists, another collective consisting of Takahiro Hirama, Shogo Baba and Hideki Nakazawa also applied for a disaster volunteer program, but they made a point of doing it in a capacity of citizens, not artists. Still, given the attention garnered by Real Times and the immediacy of the Chim↑Pom’s response it might find a place in history as a real-time creative hallmark.

Leave a Reply