Even though the shaking and waves ended many months ago, the threat of the Japan tsunami still looms large… but how much of that threat is in our heads and how much of it is real? In many ways the danger of Fukushima and the resulting radiation contamination is imperceptible, forcing a society struggling to exist in the wake of massive destruction to build personal boundaries based on their own judgment of risk. In this landscape there is no clear border and everything is a gray area.
In this series of images, French photographers Carlos Ayesta and Guillaume Bression traveled to Fukushima prefecture to capture the contaminated locations and objects, making images with the local residents themselves. Their vision sees an often empty and seemingly dead landscape filled with the symbols of modern day sterile protection: plastics. Here we see fish and men safely surrounded by acrylic bubbles, and streets cordoned off by plastic wrap. In other locations, gas masks are worn or readily available hanging from trees. His images seem to ask: “how does one live in an area deemed unsafe?” See Ayesta and Bression’s notes on his photographs below, then see the full series at carlosayesta.fr or trois8.fr.
Above: The man in a bubble outside the station – Photography at the railway station evacuated from Namie. Here nothing has really changed in over two years. The city is reopened between 9 and 16h only for redefining the prohibited area in early 2013.
The fish out of water – Photograph taken in the prohibited area, 5 kilometers from the Fukushima plant on the beach of the former Ukedo port city of Namie. Fishing is still banned throughout Fukushima Prefecture because of the radioactive contamination of fish.
The man who takes a bath – Photograph taken in the mountains surrounding the city of Fukushima. The water of this lake comes directly from the mountain. Meeting the standards, the water is considered safe, but many families still refuse to give drink to their children.
Walking Man – Photograph taken in the evacuated town of Haramachi within the zone of 20 km around the Fukushima plant. Immediately after the nuclear accident, the government announced the forced evacuation of the area leading to traffic jams on the roads in the opposite direction to the center.
The blue house behind a wall of plastic – Photograph taken in the evacuated town of Namie about 10 km from the plant. Affected by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, the city has not yet begun its reconstruction. Houses continue to collapse [at] the pace of new earthquakes. Today the city is bisected by the levels of radioactivity …
The mask is in the box – Forest Minamisoma located 25 km from the plant. Considered not to be decontaminated, the forests will remain radioactive for many years.
The road and the invisible barrier – Forest Minamisoma located 25 km from the plant. Today it is difficult to know where the contamination in the forest begins.
The yellow car packed – Photograph taken in the town of Namie center. All objects in the forbidden zone, including car, can not be recovered by their owners for reasons of contamination. The vehicles are abandoned in the parking awaiting destruction.
The man in the bubble before the dead forest – Photograph taken in front of a dead forest in the town of Namie. This forest was flooded for months by salt water due to Tsunami.