Return to Fukushima – Rebecca Bathory

Do you sometimes see something in a state of disrepair and think that there is a certain beauty about it? Or do you not take the time to look? That falling down building with ivy growing through the cracks, or the abandoned shopping trolley that an animal has made its home in, though in a state of destruction, still has a charm and beauty all of its own. Even places where natural and man made disasters have happened have a unique radiance.

Bathory takes the darker side of life and elevates the beauty of the situation. As I was roaming around her website, I stumbled on her blog, and as I was trundling through the articles I spotted something which almost immediately understand her point of view. It wasn’t her writing about all the amazing travelling she has done, nor was it her description of how she sees amazing things in dilapidated buildings, it was a title that included a line from an Emily Dickinson, which just so happens to be one of my own favourite pieces. I am sure I have used it in an article before, but the theme of the poem sits so well with how to understand this type of art that I am going to share it again…

Because I could not stop for Death –

He kindly stopped for me –

The Carriage held but just Ourselves –

And Immortality.

We slowly drove – He knew no haste

And I had put away

My labour and my leisure too,

For His Civility –

We passed the School, where children strove

At Recess – in the Ring –

We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain –

We passed the Setting Sun –

Or rather – He passed Us –

The Dews drew quivering and Chill –

For only Gossamer, my Gown –

My Tippet – only Tulle –

We paused before a House that seemed

A Swelling of the Ground –

The Roof was scarcely visible –

The Cornice – in the Ground

Since then – ’tis Centuries – and yet

Feels shorter than the Day

I first surmised the Horses’ Heads

Were towards Eternity –

This poem, to me was always about not having a fear of death, he is created as a character, almost a visitor which takes you to a new plane of life. Dickinson highlights the things that are noticed while travelling to the “house”, which is really a tomb stone, all the things which we are probably too busy to notice when we are in the midst of life, but in death there is little haste and all things can be appreciated.

Bathory’s photography does just this. Notices the things which we either don’t have access to as they are areas which really not many would think about or have an urge to go, or explores abandoned building to bring out the ghosts of their past.

Bathory is a British photographer who lives in Essex, but has travelled massively, and in her travels has visited Fukushima.

If you don’t remember or have put it out of your mind, Fukushima suffered a nuclear disaster in 2011. There was an energy accident in the Daiichi nuclear power plant which was initiated by the tsunami following an earthquake. Immediately after the earthquake the reactors automatically shut down their sustained fission reactions, however the tsunami disabled the emergency generators that would have controlled the power to the pumps necessary to cool the reactors. The insufficient cooling lead to three nuclear meltdowns, explosions and the release of radioactive materials.

100,000 people fled Fukushima due to this incident, and today the streets and buildings still lay empty, simply harbouring ghosts of the life which used to be there. Bathory captures these haunting images in a photography with an amazing precision. You can see how everything was just dropped. Lives changed in a blink of an eye, all that is left behind is a remanence of the life that was.

This exploration of abandonment is beautiful in is depiction. School books in classrooms abandoned, broken clocks, and peoples worldly belongings left behind.

One of my favourite photos from this range is the empty shop. The trolly just left, food and luxury items stand as they were, never to be touched or enjoyed.

I love the juxtaposition of the dingy lighting, the stained ceiling and cobweb, against the brightly coloured packaging and baubles. It shows a real fall from the way life was in Fukushima, which has been preserved in the most bizarre and beautifully tragic way.

If you want to see more of Rebecca Bathory’s amazing photography you can find her website here

What do you think of Bathory’s work? Why not tell me in the comments? Like this post? Why not share it?

Want to see more of what inspires me? Look for WidowCranky on Facebook and Instagram…

6 thoughts on “Return to Fukushima – Rebecca Bathory

Add yours

  1. This one is surreal (like an alien spaceship):

    Why do hospitals (and orphanages) feel the creepiest?

    Some amazing structures and anciently elegant settings.

    Only poets seem to be able to embellish Death.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hospitals and orphanages have a feel of loss about them which is why they feel the creepiest… as well as old insane asylums… you’re right that one does look other worldly. I’m not sure I agree that only poets seem to embellish death… artists and writers have been embellishing death for years… personifying death to the skeletal being that we all associate with its presence. A Christmas carol for example embellishes every ghost… and the actions of Scrooge which will ultimately lead to his own sorrowful demise.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good point. I suppose when I think of personifying death I tend to of poets. But you’re right, artists through out the ages have tried to portray Death in myriad ways.
        And a good point about the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.

        Liked by 1 person

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