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Lost & Found
Family photos swept by 3/11 East Japan Tsunami
All these pictures were found in a town named Yamamoto-cho, in Miyagi Prefecture. On March 11th, 2011 at 2:26 PM, Yamamoto-cho was hit by a huge earthquake with a magnitude of 9.0, 50% of the town was flooded when the tsunami came after the earthquake hit. The tsunami not only swept the harbor away, but also many houses, cars, trains, as well as people. 614 people died out of the townʼs population of 16,700, 4 are still missing, and 2,209 buildings were completely destroyed, 1,062 buildings half destroyed, and 1,110 buildings were partially destroyed. Yamamoto-cho was a peaceful small town, just like any other in rural Japan.
The project “Salvage Memory” was started by a team of young researchers from The Japan Society for Socio-Information Studies. We are trying to return 130,000 pictures that were damaged by the tsunami to their owners, by sweeping the dirt off, rinsing them with water, and taking pictures of the photographs to create digital data. More than 500 people volunteered for this project, and 1100 photo albums and 1900 photographs were returned to their owners. As of November 2011, the project was still going on and we were using the digital data to find owners of still unclaimed photographs. Unfortunately, about 30,000 photos were too badly damaged and could not be returned. They were supposed to be thrown out, but instead we decided to exhibit them to give people an opportunity to see them in the belief that these photos carry powerful messages. This is how the “Lost and Found Project” began.
The “Lost and Found Project” was first launched to give people the opportunity to see the photographs swept away by the tsunami in the East Japan Earthquake disaster. These photographs draw us into their presence and make us become aware of their silent voices. This awareness is very important for us who are living in the present and will continue to live into the future. This exhibition should give us an opportunity to think about the relationship people have with their photographs and also to think about the significance of photographs themselves.
“Lost and Found Project” was previously shown in Tokyo, Los Angeles, NY, Melbourne, parts of it in San Francisco and now in Rome, with different installations in each location, making each exhibition a unique and personal experience.
~ Sako Shimizu
The XI edition of Fotografia – Festival Internazionale di Roma, this year dedicated to the theme of work, shows the project “Lost & Found 3/11”, supported by Doozo Gallery , who has set up a structure for the MACRO Testaccio in Rome.
For the occasion, the gallery in collaboration with 3/3 have produced a small volume, which pieces together an ideal family album, symbol of the deep link between personal and collective memory that enters the work of recovery and conservation of photographs.
Project President and vice-Chairman: Munemasa Takahashi e Kazuto Hoshi.
With the patronage of the The Japan Cultural Insttute in Rome.
Photographers want to tell stories. Sometimes stories demand attention through the images. And usually, what is depicted inside the frame, is somehow related to the story told. But in these images there is no relation between them whatsoever, because the images were made for a completely different reason and tell stories unrelated. The story they tell happened outside them. There is nothing sad in these pictures besides the fact that we can see them, NOT being part of a family album anymore.
As Burn Magazine we look at this project with big admiration and respect for the work done by the ones who decided to save and present these images. In its dramatic beauty this project is an extraordinary homage to life, full of meanings for identity of photography.
~ Diego Orlando