Dizzy Swallows



August 19th, 2011

I’ve always enjoyed good documentary. Leave me with The Blue Planet series and I’ll be blissfully entertained for hours on end. One of our favorite sites for streaming documentaries has been PBS Frontline. Have you ever watched a Frontline video? They offer documentaries on just about any topic, from high school football, to the Arab Spring, and from cheap flights, to the Deepwater Horizon spill.

Our most recent foray into the Frontline archives offered up a short film on the Japanese art collective, Chim?Pom. The collective was formed in 2005 by 6 young artists: Ellie, Ryuta Ushiro, Yasutaka Hayashi, Masataka Okada, Toshinori Mizuno and Motomu Inaoka. Something of a guerrilla art group, Chim?Pom explores themes like death, poverty, inequality, coexistence, peace, violence, and street culture. Past projects include a video piece in Cambodia, visiting children who had lost limbs to landmines, blowing up designer handbags and Ipods, then auctioning off the remains as a benefit for those children.

Chim?Pom has recently attracted international attention with their heavily charged work on the Fukushima nuclear disaster. When asked why they chose this new focus for their work, founder Ryuta Ushiro, said:

“…being artists we happened to come face to face with a moment like this; we happened to be alive in a time like this. So what can we do as our expression? I couldn’t help feeling that this was being asked of us.”

One video piece in this series features members of the group visiting the Fukushima plant (in full protective gear) and spray-painting a white flag, which begins as the red rising sun of Japan then transforms into a stark radiation symbol.

Their work is extremely powerful, and I highly recommend taking a few minutes to watch the mini-documentary here. You can also read the full interview with Ryuta Ushiro here.

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