Four artists from Hiroshima are exploring the cultural, political, and social impacts of the United States’ bombings of Hiroshima and Nagaski during World War II in the exhibition “Each Day Begins with the Sun Rising” through installations, drawings, paintings and video in the Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College.
In collaboration with Hiroshima City University, the Benton Museum is featuring contemporary Japanese artists and alumni Megumi Fukuda, Taro Furukata, Genki Isayama and Kana Kou.
The exhibition consists of Fukuda’s installation “Each Day Begins with the Sun Rising and Ends with the Sun Setting,” Furukata’s installation “The Mother and the Little Boy,” Isayama’s single-channel video screen and the multi-channel video “Objects” and Kou’s “Beautiful Limit.”
Upon entering the exhibition guests are greeted with Furukata’s installation consisting of discarded household items being illuminated by solar panels next to Kou’s large lush mural depicting the landscape of the Seto Inland Sea.
As guests continue through the exhibition, they are met with Isayama’s videos that illuminate the room with hues of purple and blue through decay. Followed by that is Furukata’s collection of historically significant items displayed upon tables.
Senior curator Rebecca McGrew said the exhibition is about the engagement of hope with history.
“It’s important to talk about the artist work through the lens of creativity and hope but not just the harshness of the environment degradation and the horrific bombings,” McGrew said.
Isayama said the exhibit reminds viewers of the history of the atomic bombing and war, but he believes it is not limited to these issues.
In an email interview with Isayama, who is currently in Japan, he said he has the impression that there are many works that allow people to view one another in the ecosystem.
“In a society where things that used to be outside of the ecosystem, such as the atomic bomb, have become commonplace since they entered the ecosystem,” Isayama said. “It is important for me to be aware of how the day begins with the rising of the sun, and how we can feel the universally given phenomenon.”
Isayama said his work is based on the theme of what state of being is the meaning of existence as a living organism, rather than the self created by society and status.
“As everything is monoculture and reproduced, the only thing I find original is the decay of my own body and the passage of time in which it decays,” Isayama said. “The passage of time is the ultimate rule given to all living things from birth to death, and each of us has our own ‘passage of time.’”
Isayama chose to present this idea through two videos in the exhibit that portray disintegrating objects. On the one single channel video screen, viewers can see a gradient of yellow, orange, pink, and purple decay while on “Objects” the viewer watches as multiple porcelain objects disintegrate.
“He talks about the passage of time and what does the passage of time mean, and what does decay mean,” McGrew said. “For me it’s very moving to look at his work and it’s harder to put in exact words.”
The history is complicated, delicate, and very fraught, so McGrew said she wanted to work with the artist to leave it up to the viewer to find the connections in the pieces.
Nilo Naraghi, visitor services manager, said she definitely recommends other people to come view the exhibit.
“It’s really important to think about nuclear energy and nuclear fallout, especially now,” said Naraghi.
“Since we have our own experiences but we see on the other side of the world kind of give their stories and I think it’s very important for us to listen,” Maddy Woodward, visitor services coordinator, said.
The exhibit runs through June 25. The Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College is open Tuesday through Saturday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., located at 120 W. Bonita Ave., Claremont.
For more information, visit pomona.edu/museum/exhibitions/2022/each-day-begins-sun-rising.
Megan Mojica can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.