We arrived to Fukushima at 9.47. A colleague from Ryo Abe was waiting for us and came with us to the Azuma Evacuation Center, where friend and architecture’s students arranged a workshop in order to gladden the kids hosts in the center. It’s a big matter, that nobody is dealing with: the future of these kids and boys and girls. There was a concert also, realized by the young orchestra of Fukushima, with violins, violas and cellos. The orchestra played some pieces of Ciajkovskij, but the people weren’t very interested in. They stay in Azuma Center since three months. They keep their memories still alive, crowded in the emergency cardboard facilities in Ban Shigeru. We came back to Tokyo late in the afternoon.
At the Fukushima’s station, anything seemed as always. You could buy everything, included the famous perfect and well packed cherries. We was wandering if something is really happened so near, just 90 kilometres far. Something has shocked the world, but not this people. I think about the incredible story of Hiroo Onoda, the japan soldier that remained in solitary for 30 years, in the Lubang isle, because he wanted not believe in the end of the war. I think that could be a paradigm of the obedient spirit remaining in this people. They told me that The atlas for immigration is a place very visited by young people of Tokyo, especially in the night. Something has changed at Tokyo.
Interview with Alessio Guarino by Anna Mola
AM: Comparing the shooting on your site with the photographies taken in the Azuma Center and at the demonstrations against nuclear, I immediately notice a big difference. First ones are so elegant, sober, plain and neat; second ones are significant for understand the chaos and the distress about those moments. Do you think that shock due to the earthquake in Japan – for you Japan is your home – has “shocked” your style also?
AG: They are two approach to photography completely different. First one is that I use to do and it represent the construction of the image thought in my head. Second one is a pure documentation of a place or a fact; you catch the events before your eyes and in this very short time you try to find the sense of a story, the story that you want to tell. In either cases, what comes out regards always yourself. The choice between which images to hold and which to discard regards yourself only. Japan’s tragedy has surely shocked me and brought me to make the choices, telling something rather than something else.
AM: Media have reported what happens after the earthquake in a partial way, especially the reactions of the Japan’s people. What do you think is completely pass unnoticed by the Westerner and in particular by the Italians?
AG: Tv and newspapers have reported in their spectacle way, supporting some particular parts. Differently the network, in its confusion, said and keep to say everything is possible to say. The difference stays in the medium that you use. In this moment I’m in Florence and I probably know something that is passing unnoticed by the Fukushima people themselves, accustomed to receive news only by NHC.
AM: I remember the famous sentence of Robert Capa “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough”. Do you think we may understand this “close” in a human sense also, with the mean of listening and being open to the persons-subjects of the pictures? In your case, how the persons shot in the Azuma Center reacted before your lens?
AG: I really like this sentence, it’s an important concept for the one who takes photography to heart and wants talk about and especially understand the events that he’s living, for work or personal choice.
I’ve visited the Azuma Center with some friends architects who organized a workshop for the kids hosts in the center. We tried to gladden their stay there. As a member of the workshop’s staff and with the kids I went round the dormitories and that allowed me to be unobserved and accepted, especially as person aware about their tragedy. The collected material is very screened: for me is a way of respecting their tragedy.
AM: Last question: you realize videos also. Why have you chosen the medium of photography for these reportages? Don’t you think that a video would give a result more direct and immediately comprehensible of the situation?
AG: Producing a documentary film, in this situation, required times and an approach totally different. In reverse, I liked the idea to realize a private story made by details. In that composure of things and objects, watching carefully, we could find all of the drama of those persons.