OTSUCHI FUTURE MEMORIES
Otsuchi Future Memories
Following the most powerful earthquake ever to hit Japan, the sheer scale of the tsunami that smashed into northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011 –together with the nuclear disaster that came along with it -, was unprecedented. Coastal communities were devastated by waves, which at their highest reached 40 meters above sea level, traveling up to 10 km inland.
The fishing town of Otsuchi, Iwate Prefecture, Japan, was probably the most destroyed by the tsunami. There, roughly ten percent of the population was killed or went missing and sixty percent of residential buildings sustained damaged. The Mayor at the time and many municipzled, leaving Otsuchi's administrative functions paralyzed. In the midst of such chaos and disorder, people started to recover the family photographs they found in the debris of city, trying to keep safe the memory of Otsuchi.
This project presents a visual documentation of destruction and loss, by connecting portraits of the Otsuchi survivors with family photographs recovered from the waters, swept away by the tsunami. The survivors of Otsuchi were portrayed in the spaces where their former homes and workplaces were located. The importance of the colors becomes crucial in this approach. The colors from the destroyed photographs - deformed and blurred images, altered by the effects of the salty water, sometimes creating new colors or mixing the former ones - are revalued on an exercise of color archeology, where each of the colors found in the destroyed photographs were used to colorize the portraits of the survivors.
The tsunami caused considerable material damage, killing people and destroying entire communities, but above all, the survivors also face the intangible loss of their own memories and identities, in which family photographs play a fundamental role.
Text by Daido Moriyama
The village of Ōtsuchi-chō in the prefecture of Iwate -together with its inhabitants and surrounding landscapes- was one of the sites most affected by the disaster of the Great Earthquake of Eastern Japan (Higashi Nihon Daishinsai).
The objects and materials destroyed or abandoned in the wake of the tsunami that followed, as well as the people and communities that used to live there, have been the subject of countless photographs.
The large number of color images taken obsessively by the Argentine photojournalist Alejandro Chaskielberg constitute a remarkable record, the finest I have so far seen on the subject of the Great Earthquake.
As its title indicates, Ōtsuchi: Future Memories both expresses and exhaustively documents the enormous potential of photography. The “real image” and the “copied image” are two elements that harmoniously interact.
At the crossroads of the photographed moment, past, present, and future configure an eternal spiral, which transmits genuine memories to those of us who look at the images. It is a message of here and now which emerges between the already seen and the not yet seen.
Otsuchi Future Memories, 2015
Published by Editorial RM
Forewords by Daido Moriyama
RM Iberoamerican Photobook Award
Magnum Awards Juror's Pick by Martin Parr
Daegu Photo Biennial South Korea 2014
Sony Gallery Tokyo 2015
World Humanitarian Summit Istanbul 2016
CDF Centro de Fotografía Montevideo 2015
Braque Award Buenos Aires 2018
Gachi Prieto Gallery Buenos Aires 2019
Tokyo International Photography Festival
Athens Photo Festival
Cortona on the Move