Let’s start with the tweet independent curator Takashi Azumaya, aka @AxZxMxYx, wrote on Twitter moments after the earthquake and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011—not long before the he took his own life. “I don’t know how many years, how many decades or how many centuries it will take, but one thing I want those who will live in the time free of nuclear power generation to know. Even when nuclear power plants were in use there were many people who were against them.”
In a new exhibition dedicated to Azumaya, Tokyo art critic Noi Sawaragi (known for introducing the works of Takashi Murakami
at the very beginning of the artist’s career) reflects on the life of his late friend Azumaya, who he first met in 1990. Using the tweet Azumaya left just after the earthquake as an introduction, Sawaragi assembled a group of artists for an exhibition based on Azumaya’s curatorial debut, the now-iconic “Temperature of the Time” exhibition at the Setagaya Art Museum in 1999, which aimed to capture the mood of the current time. In Sawaragi’s exhibition, a group of artists do the same—such as Shuji Akagi
, a high school teacher and father of two who lives in Fukushima—64 kilometers from the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. Since the disaster in 2011, Akagi has made a habit of tweeting daily scenes of the city, like piles of tarp-covered soil that has been scraped away to decontaminate the ground and children playing among them in a poignant and revealing portrait of his reality, post-nuclear disaster.
“To me, Azumaya was a friend, a fellow, and someone like a little brother,” Sawaragi said. “But that is why I firmly made up my mind to take the offer to curate this exhibition.”