The Getty Center
Date: Thursday, November 5, 2015
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Museum Lecture Hall
Admission: Free; advance ticket recommended. Call (310) 440-7300 or use the "Get Tickets" button below.
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"When I took my first trip to the United States some years ago, I picked up a book of photographs of nuclear tests at a shop on the West Coast. The tremendous atomic cloud in the photographs seemed to be wriggling, dispersing its inner light in every direction.

If we demand that art is something that overpowers us, or transcends human knowledge and death, then perhaps the new suns unveiled by those thermonuclear bombs are some extreme realization of this demand—even if they leave a permanent curse on the earth. Such were my thoughts at that time.

Some years afterward, I saw a film of the nuclear cloud over Hiroshima, taken by a B-29 that followed the Enola Gay. Seeing that dreamlike, almost sublime film, I thought of other images of the destruction of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Daigo Fukuryūmaru boat, as well as the deformed bodies painted by Iri and Toshi Maruki and Shomei Tomatsu's photographic record of skin. Such images are related to the ominous aerial footage, in that they rudely bring us back down to earth. These two types of images stand impossibly far apart, separated by the gap between extreme beauty and extreme ugliness: they soar away from each other on opposite sides of this unbridgeable divide.

In 2011, the meltdown of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant presented me with my first exposure to the menace of nuclear disaster. I was threatened but the danger is always invisible. I have been feeling that I am standing in the middle of nowhere, in limbo between two extreme images over Hiroshima and Nagasaki."

—Takashi Arai

Takashi Arai (b.1978) first encountered photography while he was studying biology. Beginning in 2010, when he first became interested in nuclear issues, Arai has used the daguerreotype technique to create individual records, or "micro-monuments," of his encounters with surviving crew members and the salvaged hull of the fallout-contaminated Daigo Fukuryūmaru fishing boat—records that touch upon the fragmented reality of events in the past. This project also led him to photograph the interconnected subjects of Fukushima, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki. Arai's work has appeared in exhibitions at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Mori Art Museum; and the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, among many other venues, and is held in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, and Musée Guimet, France.

Complements the exhibition, In Focus: Daguerreotypes.


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