We’ve likely all seen images of the aftermath of the Hiroshima atomic bombing. And chances are all of those images have been black and white: grainy photos of ruined buildings, casualties and mushroom clouds. An estimated 145,000 people were killed in or immediately after the blast, the most destructive nuclear bombing in history.
What makes the new exhibit on Hiroshima at UBC’s Museum of Anthropology unique is that the images featured are not in black and white: They are all in full colour. Artist Ishiuchi Mikayo has taken a moving series of colour photos of clothing and personal items used by Hiroshima victims on the day they were killed.
The effect of the colour photos is dramatic. Vivid images of dresses, pants, blouses and rings make the trauma of Hiroshima feel contemporary, rather than a distant tragedy. One especially powerful image shows a dress worn by a woman killed in the bombing. It’s partially charred and tattered, but you can still make out the delicate floral print. In fact, it almost looks like a sundress you’d see worn on a summer day in Vancouver.
Artist Mikayo made the images from some 19,000 artifacts on display at the Hiroshima Peace Museum, which is located in Japan. This is the first time that her exhibit has been shown outside of the country, and it offers an exceedingly rare look into the personal side of the horrific bombing.
The exhibit will be ongoing through Feb. 12. It is accompanied by a host of events, including a panel discussion with author Joy Kogawa, performances of Requiem for Peace: Reflections of Hiroshima by the Vancouver Chamber Choir at the Chan Centre and other activities. For more information, visit the Museum of Anthropology website.