“TEPCO Decommissioning Archive Center(Former Energy Museum
at Tomioka town in Fukushima prefecture)”, 2019
The facades were designed to emulate the houses where Albert Einstein, Marie Curie and Thomas Edison were born.
Digital silver halide print, Silver foil, Acrylic mirror
40 x 60 cm

Courtesy of Yutaka Kikutake Gallery

野鳥の森 1F
1F in the Forest of Wild Birds
February 1-March 9, 2019
Yutaka Kikutake Gallery

Erika Kobayashi visited TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, turning her attention to the vegetation that had once existed in the premises. The vast plot of land currently serving a storage site for tanks containing contaminated water had once been referred to as the “Forest of Wild Birds,” a place richly overgrown with trees and flowers, where the voices of various birds could be heard. The trees were cut down after the accident at the nuclear power plant, and the entire grounds of the area is now covered in silver mortar in order to reduce radiation levels. Kobayashi overlays the time of the past with the presence of radioactive material to create works that summons our imagination towards things that are invisible to the eye.

While receiving high acclaim for her publications as a writer and comic artist, Kobayashi has continued to produce an eclectic array of works encompassing various mediums from drawing to silkscreen, photography, mirrors, light, and sound. Conducting multi-faceted research into nuclear energy from prior to the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, she engages in creating works that are grounded by their highly informative nature and rich sense of poetry, also overlaying her personal family history into the context of her practice. Such concepts and considerations were brought together in the installation work “Sunrise” (2016) comprising drawings, neon, and sound, which was presented at “Roppongi Crossing 2016: My Body, Your Voice.” The new works presented on this occasion, along with paintings reminiscent of flowers that had once grown in Fukushima’s forest, are inspired by the more delicate and subtle memories concerning issues of nuclear energy.