Beyond Fukushima: capturing untold stories of nuclear disasters

Courtesy: Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation

In August 2011, Japanese photographer Kazuma Obara entered the damaged nuclear power plant in Fukushima as a worker and captured unseen, unauthorised images from inside the plant. His photos of the plant rapidly spread across international media. For the following three years, Kazuma continued to cover the story in Fukushima.  He encountered a series of difficulties in visually documenting the effects of the nuclear disaster, as many problems were invisible. This led to a change in his style of work, moving from direct representation, as in conventional photojournalism, to a more indirect style. Kazuma has also documented the effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. In 2015, he used films which had been exposed to radiation for thirty years to create abstract images speaking of the present-day problems caused by the nuclear disaster. More recently, Kazuma used an old camera which belonged to one of the victims of nuclear testing on Bikini Atoll in 1954 to document the untold history of hidden nuclear victims.

In this talk, chaired by Dr Ele Carpenter, Kazuma eexplained the various challenges in visual storytelling and how they relate to the current visual environment and “post-truth” era. He also talked about his contemporary photobooks, including Reset Beyond Fukushima and Exposure, which he uses to tell these stories.

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