Thursday, May 3, 2012

"The Forbidden Box" & Article 9

In 1995, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, the Queens Museum in New York City hosted an exhibition called “Project Article 9.” For this exhibition, Yukinori Yanagi superimposed two 17-foot-long fabric panels, one printed with the image of a mushroom cloud above an opened box engraved with the name, “Little Boy,” the name of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. On the front panel, he printed the original draft of Article 9, as a blurred image. There is an image of the mushroom cloud on the fabric, also.

Mr. Yanagi evokes the image of Japan as a victim of atomic bombings, but he never forgets that Japan was also an aggressor. His work, “Asia-Pacific Ant Farm,” for example, consists of thirty-six clear boxes in which ants crawl through colored sand depicting the flags of the “Great East Asian Co-prosperity Sphere” nations, evoking Japan’s colonial past.

“The Forbidden Box" is the first fine art collaborative work between American art institutions – the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia – and a Japanese artist focused on the atomic bombings. By using a process of collaboration involving descendants from both sides, Yanagi confirmed art as a method of communication across historical barriers, during the 1990’s, when the issue of the atomic bombings of Hiroshiima and Nagasaki was very controversial, as the cancellation of the Enola Gay Exhibition at the Smithsonian demonstrated.

The 'hope" [in this piece] reflects the "hope" of atomic bombing survivor anti-nuclear activists who strive to assure that there will be no future victims of nuclear bombings. Article 9 is a renunciation of war, whose premise is that Japan must never again be responsible for the creation of more war victims.

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