Momentous transformations occur in communities affected by traumatic events. Armed conflicts, occupations, sudden and ongoing political turmoil and natural disasters cause everyday folk to react to tragic issues in diverse ways. From life-saving over-the-top heroism to all-out anarchy of vandalizing and looting, communities are defined by how they respond to the challenges following any catastrophic event. When the tsunami waters finally receded after Japan’s ‘triple disaster’ of earthquake, tsunami, and power plant meltdown in the Tohoku region in 2011, most survivors were left homeless and disconnected from their families and friends. In a decimated landscape completely devoid of infrastructure, severed communities struggled to put their lives back together. The Japanese government’s relatively slow and opaque response to the nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant has resulted in a growing mistrust of the government in Japanese society. The Tokyo-based art collective, Chim↑Pom, was one of the first groups to initiate art projects to raise awareness about the realities of nuclear power and radiation in Japan through their performances and installations. Utilizing one of Tokyo’s busiest neighborhoods, Shibuya, as the staging ground for many of their interventions, Chim↑Pom targets candid public audiences with sometimes outlandish and humorous projects. According to Emily Taguchi, producer of the PBS Frontline program, The Atomic Artists, “Japanese youth had generally been very apolitical and apathetic” before the disaster. Chim↑Pom’s actions are at the forefront of this paradigm shift in Japanese society. — If anyone would like to comment on the above, I would be especially interested in the discourse about how art projects that are interventionist and subversive in nature, are sometimes associated with illegal activities. The work of Chim↑Pom and many others ride a fine line between our notions of legal and illegal, but when are these actions considered OK in society? Must they be educative?
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