Modern Art in Hiroshima

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The Museum of Contemporary Art in Hiroshima sits on a hill surrounded by trees. It can be a struggle to find since it is quite a walk from the Atomic Bomb Dome and museum, but it is well worth it. You’ll also get a view of the city right next to the entrance.

The main exhibition, entitled “Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness” (words originally by WH Auden and borrowed by Kenzaburō Ōe) showcases paintings and sculptures by contemporary Japanese artists responding to that day. The most striking piece, “Atomic Bible,” was just that - the Bible opened with half the pages burnt off making the words impossible to read.

However, the most haunting exhibition for me was “Life = Work” in conjunction with the 70th anniversary of August 6, 1945. Survivors, not all professional artists, drew what they saw and experienced on that day with brief written descriptions. I wish I wrote some of them down. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum provided an exact, historic account, but these drawings provided stories, small windows into their lives and what they experienced waking up to a normal day, seeing a plane, losing consciousness, and waking up to chaos and hell.

I was taught that the atomic bomb was a necessary evil. But then again, I was taught that most twisted things done by my country  were necessary evils.

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