Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Portrait of Fukushima Daiichi

Fukushima Future, mixed media on paper, 50 x 42 cm

This work is a personal response to the events at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

I am particularly struck by the depersonalisation of the elderly  and infants  receiving radiation screening.

One minute you're a mum going shopping. A piece of technology reacts when placed near you or your child by an anonymous masked figure wearing a white-cowled blue-striped jump-suit. Next minute, through no fault or choice of your own, your social status changes from 'shopper' to that of 'public safety risk' and 'medical case'.

I had a similar sense a couple of years back when i was flying to Europe and the swine flu panic was in full swing. At Asian airports everyone was running round in white surgical masks.

At every international airport i passed through a temperature scanner. If the device were to detect a fever, i would have been pulled out of line and marched off somewhere to enter a traveller’s limbo.

The situation is even more pronounced now with backscatter X-ray security scanners for airport passenger screening. The assurances law enforcment agencies gave, that the images would not and could not be stored turned out to be false.

Depersonalized, de-humanised images of travellers stripped of all dignity and privacy in the name of preventing terrorism flicker off screens.

The State has turned on its own citizens, airlines on their own customers, all in the name of “public safety”.

Meanwhile, helicopter gunships loose their canons at mere moving images on their sensor screens, people as Nintendo targets, as in the case of the recent Bagdad attack on driver (Saeed Chmagh) and photographer (Namir Noor-Eldeen) employed by the Reuters news service

Each in our own way, we all have a Fukushima future.


  1. This one is very powerful, Harry, the painting and the story.

    When the flu virus was going on last year, or was it the year before, my grandson went before one of those detectors to see whether he had a temperature and would therefore be refused the right to travel in Singapore. It was frightening to see.

    It's worse in Japan. The stakes are higher. You capture the horror and depersonalization well.

  2. Harry, first, so good to have you back! Second, this is a powerful and scary painting - but not as scary as what is happening to all those people in the area of the nuclear plants. Every day, horrid news that seems to be consumed with our dinner meals as if it were nothing to us :(

  3. yes, it seems so unreal, but it's so sad that this is reality.
    Very intense painting Harry. You create a world full of emotions with your brushstrokes....
    Scary sometimes but always beautiful.

  4. Harry,
    these events make us really perplexed, worried so much vulnerability around us!
    the future that waits for us is scary ...

    Once again, you with your sensitivity, portrayed a sad subject, so beautifully!
    greetings and a big hug friend!

    that awareness, take care of us, human beings!

  5. Harry!!

    Welcome Back! And with a vengeance! This is an inspired, insightful and scathing attack on technology run amok, doubling as a great painting of our time.
    It's good to see the recuperative process didn't dull your rapier mind, nor your boundless imagination.
    It's certain I won't be the only person stunned by this painting, but I'm glad to be the first.
    Again, it's great to see you back and fighting!

  6. you have got to the nut of it Harry. Well done and frightening.

  7. Proving once again that it takes a great mind to take on the hard subjects, and a fine hand to capture the range of emotion and outrage and fragility and horror so well, but most of all a gracious soul to present it as art first and foremost, doing everything art was meant to do - or should be. Many thanks, Harry.

  8. You feel; then you portray--from the soul to the hand. Two Tigers said it: everything art was meant to do.

  9. Impressive work Harry that gives us 'food' for thought and even more to appreciate about our own country.

  10. You said it all with these simple strong shapes. A very compelling work

  11. Bravo, Harry, por tu obra y por tu texto de denuncia. Todos los gobiernos deberían trabajar e invertir para que cuanto antes no necesitemos este tipo de energía. Pero no creo que estén por la labor.

  12. Welcome Back! You have expressed the frightful consequences of a dangerously failed technology so well! We need energy but at any cost?

    Congratulations on a powerful piece.

  13. Thanks for reminding us about all that flu screening when the world went into panic mode, Elizabeth. In fact, i see a lot of similarities between the new airport screening machines and the radiation screening currently happening around Fukushima. I can see some more paintings coming up a little further down the track.

  14. Yes Rhonda, it's all very surreal.

    And thanks, Monica, for seeing the emotion in my work. Communicating an emotional response is my first aim as a neo-expressionist painter.

    So true, Denise. We are awash with a whole complex of emotions as we watch this situation unfold.

  15. Hi Gary. Glad you like the work. And glad you spotted my scathing mindset in painting it. More to come!

  16. Thanks John. Probably it takes a nut to get to the nut, lol. Guilty.

    Yes Gabriella, well put - outrage, fragility, horror. And fear, anger, pity, contempt, righteous indignation, mistrust .....

    Thanks, Hallie. You and Gabriella are too kind.

    Too right, Richard. Good be in Tasmania, far away from the mania. Now all we have to do is stop a greedy local company building a huge chlorine-based pulp mill in our beautiful river valley, and not believe any of their hollow assurances that the dioxins they will spew into our pristine waters will be environmentally safe. I’m sure those assurances are worth about as much as TEPCO’s fudged safety reports and incident cover-ups.

  17. Thanks, Celeste.

    Gracias, Manel. Estoy de acuerdo. A menos que nosotros, los ciudadanos, que quede claro que los beneficios empresariales no son tan importantes como es el aire para respirar y comer alimentos sanos, a continuación, los ejecutivos de las empresas se creen que pueden comportarse como les gusta.

    Not at the cost of the air we breath and the food we eat, Davida. At least you and i know that. I wish more corporate executives knew it too.