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SOS  SOUND OF SIRENS   2012 / 2021

March 11, 2021 will mark the tenth anniversary of the earthquake, tsunami and triple nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant. Invisible, life-threatening radioactivity escaped and spread beyond Tokyo. An inaccessible “death zone” was marked out in the core of the contamination, tens of thousands of people were relocated. In the fall of 2011, the Abe government passed a “Homeland Security Act” to prevent the dire consequences from being reported within Japan. Journalists were and are sued for violations, individuals who comment negatively on the topic on social media can be declared incapacitated without the right of the family or a lawyer to object. The failure of the government to provide proper information ensures that children and people have to die. 

Ten years later, thousands are still living in makeshift huts. For about three years now, the government has been resettling people near the core zone of the nuclear disaster. Brazenly it surrenders good faith citizens to life-threatening radiation. The government is terrified that its cynicism and misanthropy will surface. The landscape, in one of the most fertile areas of Japan, is littered with millions of black plastic bags filled with contaminated earth, which are increasingly forming mountains. The Olympic Games, which are to take place in Tokyo this year, want to make all of this forgotten.

In 2011, significant numbers of Japanese escaped from the radioactivity. Some moved to remote islands, others moved to the United States or Europe. The eleven year old Kazuto moved with his mother from Tokyo Vienna.

In 2012, on the first anniversary of the catastrophe, the artists Sylvia Eckermann and Edgar Honetschläger, in collaboration with Yukika Kudo, initiated an online streaming portal entitled Sound of Sirens, which gave people in Japan and around the world the opportunity to present videos on the subject without fear of legal consequences. With the help of artistic methods, SOS sought to take stock of how a democratic society, how the individual, a group, a government, how the world public deals with a catastrophe of epic proportions.

A video featuring the 11 year old Kazuto opened the platform, in which he asked people to express themselves on the subject by means of film. As a result, around 140 films were uploaded to the SOS Platform. In the commemorative year 2021 we want to reveal the open wounds with a newly established SOS video platform. This time, too, the now 21 year old Kazuto introduces. He gives us an insight into what it meant for him to have been rudely pushed out of his culture and how the forced switch shaped him. The impressive collection of videos that follows seems even more explosive today than it did back then, because according to the established law, hardly anything from 2011 is to be found on social media. It’s almost as if the radioactive disaster never happened, as if it wasn’t present.

Sound of Sirens reflects the drama of the loss of liberal democracy and its consequences: images of the tormented individual, destroyed landscapes and cities, helplessness, fear, dystopian visions of the future, lies, resistance, protests, suffering, loneliness, the precarious conditions on site, contradicting statements by scientists.

Incredible how the pictures and differing statements equal those of the corona pandemic.