Ritual & Reailty

Examines the impact of trauma from the Fukushima nuclear exclusion zone all the way to Tokyo, 2013

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Ritual & Reality, 2013

Because Ms. Garbasz’s works are so understated, the enormity of what they represent may be lost.”
Ken Johnson, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 2014

In Ritual and Reality, I followed the trauma from Fukushima nuclear disaster and the tsunami from inside the exclusion zone all the way to Tokyo. As a Berlin Tokyo exchange artist I had a unique chance as I was technically part of the Tokyo metropolitan government and as such was able to get access to the exclusion zone as the Tokyo government. The project stems from my other works exploring inheritance of trauma, and the responsibility my own inherited trauma instilled in me.

By walking and documenting the actual landscape of this disaster, I attempt to makes visible all that was lost. An area that was once home to a population of roughly two million has been turned into a collection of ghost towns by a disaster that was largely preventable. Years of corporate and governmental cronyism led to ineffective and toothless regulatory bodies incapable or unwilling to deal with the dangers staring directly at them. It’s no surprise that the clean-up effort has also been marred by disinformation, ineptitude, and corruption. By waiting two years before starting the project i wanted to wait till a lot of the rebuilding was done and point to the more physiological aspects of the traumas experienced.

From abandoned towns inside and outside the exclusion zones partially reclaimed by nature, to “temporary” housing that evacuees must now call home, as well as a series of images from Tokyo, the world’s largest metropolitan area which lies but 150 miles south west of Fukushima. One of my goals for this project is to highlight the human disaster that is taking place in Japan alongside the environmental one. Through my work I exposes the cultural attitudes that allowed this disaster to occur in the wake of a highly predictable natural catastrophe. As she sees it, the Fukushima disaster is rooted in many facets of the Japanese culture, as well as common profit influenced behaviors in the nuclear industry worldwide, and she believes that the healing process must begin deep within the society that allowed these events to transpire. No longer can people afford to take comfort in what I keenly identifies as the ritual of safety, but they must now face the very real dangers and obstacles before them. The old status quo of denial and quick fixes will no longer suffice. One only has to look at the landscape, and the large piles of leaking bags containing radioactive materials, to understand that.