Monday, December 11, 2017

The Restoration Will ( Part 1 )

A photobook review.

"The Restoration Will" is a photobook by Mayumi Suzuki originally released as a limited edition of 87 copies handmade by the artist in association with RPS in Tokyo. A new revised hand assembled edition of 450 copies has just been published in Italy by Ceiba Editions.
Mayumi was born and brought up in Onagawa, Miyagi prefecture Japan. Her father ran a photo studio from their family home.
Onagawa was severely damaged in the tsunami that occurred in March 2011 and Mayumi’s parents have been missing ever since.

 Two editions of "The Restoration Will" by Mayumi Suzuki.

Part 1 
Photographs as memories and the Great East Japan Earthquake

To add a little background to one of the sources of images in "The Restoration Will" and illustrate some of the reasons why I think it's an important work I want to refer to two other photobooks by different artists.  
In the days, weeks and months that followed the huge earthquake and tsunami that struck the North East coast of Japan on March 11th 2011 two things occurred which overlap in all three of these works.  Firstly a number of Japanese artists felt compelled to create work based around the aftermath of the disaster. For some it was due to the shock of what they saw or out of a desire to highlight government failings and others were inspired because they were born or lived in the affected area. 
In addition schemes were set up to collect and salvage photographs , photo albums and similar items from the mud and rubble. These were cleaned and dried then held in public spaces for survivors or relatives of victims to collect.
Many people had lost everything they owned, their homes and their workplaces, others had lost loved ones, relatives and friends. If they could recover their photographs they would at least have some precious memories back.  
Many people including artists and photographers also felt the  need to volunteer to help survivors or assist the relief effort with some working in the photo cleaning and recovery process. 

The following pictures show two photobooks that document this process and give us an idea of the scale of the project. The first by Munemasa Takahashi ended up as a traveling art exhibition displaying recovered photos that were mostly too ruined to be reclaimed. The second by Masashi Asada and Satoshi Fujimoto documents the teams of volunteers in various locations .
Please click on the images  to view in more detail.

The photograph inset on the cover of The Restoration Will is one such photo recovered and cleaned by volunteers in Onagawa and reclaimed later by Mayumi Suzuki along with other family snap shots.
There are also a number of other recovered photographs within the book. 
Mayumi is a photographer who was born in Onagawa, her Father was a photographer in the town and their family home was also a photography studio. Mayumi's parents went missing in the tsunami and their home was destroyed.


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