COMMEMORATION OF THE 2011 GREAT EAST JAPAN EARTHQUAKE AND TSUNAMI
絆 Kizuna 6: Resilience is a series of events to remember the victims of the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan’s Tohoku region on March 11, 2011. Presented by the Osaka Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International, the Consulate-General of Japan in Chicago, the Japan America Society of Chicago, Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Chicago Office, and Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Chicago, the 絆 Kizuna 6 consists of a commemoration ceremony, a photo exhibition and an economic seminar to show continued support from the people of Chicago to the people of Tohoku. The word “kizuna” means “bond of friendship” in Japanese. The 絆 Kizuna 6: Resilience Photo Exhibition was curated by Alan Labb, Associate Professor, Photography Department, and Associate Provost of Educational Technology and Innovation at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The selection was made from the past Kizuna exhibition archive as well as current photos taken by the Tohoku-based photographer Kiyotaka Shishido. This year’s exhibition includes a few images of Kumamoto Prefecture that was struck by a large-scale earthquake in 2016. The Kizuna exhibitions have been contributed by many photographers including Shishido and the leading Japanese business newspaper Nikkei’s Photo Department archive “Memory: Things We Should Never Forget.”
By The 絆 Kizuna 6 Committee
STATEMENT FROM THE CURATOR
For the 6th annual Kizuna remembrance exhibition, I searched through past Chicago Kizuna archives and was awestruck by the excellent quality of photographs produced over the past six years. Photography functions on many levels, and all the previous Kizuna exhibitions have done an exemplary job of both chronicling a timeline of events, and documenting the lives and places that were changed forever by the tragic earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in 2011.
For this year’s selection, however, I abandoned the traditional constraints of chronological ordering and keeping to a singular theme, and instead sought out photographic compositions that illustrate what photography does best: telling a story within a discrete frame without needing additional information from adjacent content. The result is a group of images that are complementary and synergistic but not dependent on the photographs they are placed next to on the wall.
I also looked for images that best illustrate resilience, by being both indexical and allegorical. These photographs reveal the difficulties facing the community, while exemplifying the inner strength of the individuals depicted and the strength of the collective Japanese spirit that is capable of overcoming the worst of obstacles and participating once again in the fragility of life.
Fall down seven times, get up eight — Japanese proverb
By Alan Labb
Associate Professor, Photography Department, and Associate Provost of Educational Technology and Innovation at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago