Exhibition at Hiroshi Watanabe Studio in Los Angeles (c) Lost & Found Project
In the current?Aperture?magazine issue?206, photography critic and independent curator?Mariko Takeuchi?writes:
In the cities, towns, and village affected by the disaster, a vast number of personal photographs were salvaged, pulled from underneath rubble and mud by all sorts of people. They were discolored by saltwater and covered with dirt; some were misshapen or even emitted foul odors. With very few exceptions, it was impossible to identify the people who had made the photographs, their subjects, or their owners?if indeed they were still alive.
What began as a small community effort has turned into the?Memory Salvage Project, a volunteer organization that has to date recovered and begun restoring 750,000 lost family photographs.
?Restoration is not just a matter of infrastructure,? Professor Kuniomi Shibata, head of the Memory Salvage Project, says in a?video?for Discovery Channel, ?There are other important things.?
Snapshots were cleaned, numbered and digitized one by one with the help of volunteers who came from all over Japan. At least?20,000 photographs, and?13,000 photo albums have been returned to their owners. Several thousand other images abstracted by natural disaster have been assembled into an evocative and visually stunning traveling exhibition which has been on view in Tokyo and Los Angeles, and is now coming to New York.
Photographer?Munemasa?Takahashi, one of the leaders of the project?tells?New Yorker?sPhotobooth why the images on view are so powerful:
After the disaster occurred, the first thing the people who lost their loved ones and houses came to look for was their photographs? Only humans take moments to look back at their pasts, and I believe photographs play a big part in that. This exhibit makes us think of what we have lost, and what we still have to remember about our past.
Lost & Found: 3.11 Photographs from Fukushima?will be on view at Aperture?Monday, April 2, 2012 ? Friday, April 27, 2012.
Aperture Gallery and Bookstore
547 W. 27th Street, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10001