In Nagasaki, New Art Exhibit “Antimonument” Rethinks The Bomb


Visual artist Shinpei Takeda stands in front of his exhibit titledAntimonument.” Photographs By Ari Beser.

“What is Antimonument supposed to mean?” I asked Ryuta Imafuku, cultural anthropologist at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies.

“There is no such thing as ‘supposed to,’” replied Imafuku, partner of visual artist Shinpei Takeda, whose new exhibit, “Antimonument,” recently went on display at the Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum. “What do you think Antimonument means?” he asked.

“A monument is permanent,” I said. “’Antimonument’ is traveling around the world. You can take it apart, move it from city to city, and still send a permanent message.”

He shook his head at the simplicity of my explanation.

“There is no right, and there is no wrong. The monument is a public collective symbol of the memory. ‘Antimonument’ is the starting point to question that ideology. Our relationship with the past should not be singularly communicated by the symbols of the monument. The monument has power related to some sort of political motivation. So ‘Antimonument’ questions the ideology.”

On August 13, a week after the anniversaries of Japan’s atomic bombings, both Imafuku and Takeda led a public tour of Nagasaki—itself a living extension of Takeda’s “Antimonument.”

The view of the atomic bomb dome from across the Motoyasu River, where a plaque rests showing what the industrial hall used to look like.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki experienced the unimaginable disaster of atomic bombs, but they commemorate the events in philosophically different ways.

They say

Hiroshima is where people go to protest, and Nagasaki is where people go to pray.
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It reflects on the Christian background of Nagasaki. Christianity was banned in Japan under the shogunate, punishable by severe torture and death until the late 19th century.

When the ban was lifted in the Meiji Restoration, the St Mary’s Cathedral, —> Read More