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ART : SHAKAI / Akimichi Chimura

SHAKAI / Akimichi Chimura


On November 2nd, 2008, I went to the coast of Kamisu, Ibaraki Prefecture, the coast known for its wind farm.  There, at the foot of the white turbines standing in a row to the horizon, I saw scores of articles washed ashore, drifted from somewhere unknown, scattered all around, covering the coast as far as the eye could reach. . . . Fascinated by those articles just lying there quiet in the very midst of the roar of waves, the howling sound of the wind turbines,

I have been taking pictures of the articles ever since – pictures of the articles washed ashore.About environmental pollution and oceanic problems, I have some common knowledge and concern, same as everyone else.  After I started photographing on the seashore, I looked into the problems myself.  Various issues are raised and arguments are made over the matter of discarded articles washed ashore.  However, it is not these issues and arguments that moved me so much as the articles themselves on the shore.  Those sand-covered articles whose origin – whether from faraway or dumped nearby – nobody knows, their way of being as they are is what really caught my eyes more than anything else.

“The pollution like this is ominous. . . .”  True as it is, this kind of argument is not what I pursue. Instead, I just wanted to face those drifted articles in person, honestly and sincerely face the articles that were originally created for our use and taken good care of for a while, yet now getting rusted, broken and torn apart as time passed.  I wanted to see or meet them face to face before they eventually get ragged, buried in the sand or carried out to sea again, sent to the bottom, deep and dark.

March 11th, 2011 . . . that great earthquake caused tsunami to destroy a huge number of things and kill a great number of people, washing them together away to the ocean.  The scattered pieces of wreckage, shadowed with the people and their past lives, drifted on to the coast where I’d kept coming to take photographs.  A year after the unforgettable day that the earthquake occurred, the remains are still drifting ashore; especially when in winter the north wind blew to change the current, even more of those remains drifted ashore than right after the disaster, reminding us of that day even now.

To me however, those remains were nothing special.  The earthquake disaster did not necessarily make them special to me, for my camera lens was simply directed to the articles coming ashore anew.  The drifted articles that came ashore before the earthquake and those that came after . . .

I wonder what difference they make, for the only thing we are really sure about is that they were both thrown away from the society and its rules we depend on and that now they are just there, forgotten and unrecognized. . . .

The world of infinity, imagined as if counting all the grains of sand in the Ganges River, is called “沙界shakai (a metaphysical world of sand)” in Buddhist thought.  What I have been pursuing through my camera lens is a more secular and material world of the ragged sand and articles – their world, or their story that can be named and called “砂界shakai (a realistic world of sand )” rather than the metaphysical “沙界shakai” in Buddhism.

What those lying there narrate however, is not just their story but ours, for they are what we created for ourselves.  The story may touch the essence of ourselves, or that of the society we create. For the society, “社会shakai” in Japanese, is our deed that the worlds we each have in ourselves – which are called our hearts – get piled up and keep spinning out.

Akimichi Chimura

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