Guerilla art group Chim↑Pom pull exhibition after “Pika” sky drawing controversy

chim pom pikaChris Salzburg at Global Voices Online has picked up on a local controversy that unfolded last week.

chim pom pika

On the morning of October 21, Tokyo-based art group “Chim↑Pom” chartered a small plane which drew the characters for “pika” (ピカッ) in the sky above Hiroshima. The characters immediately bring to mind the term “pika-don” (ピカドン); “pika” signifies the initial flash of the A-bomb and “don” the sound of the enormous explosion that followed. According to Chugoku Shinbun, between 7:30am and 12pm the group had the plane spell out the words 5 times while they shot video of the characters above the A-bomb Dome from the Peace Memorial Park as part of a work they planned to include in their exhibition at Hiroshima Museum of Contemporary Art scheduled for November.

Salzburg points of a Japanese blogger who disputes whether the project can legitimately be described as art. In the Chugoku Shinbun article linked to above, several local citizens and A-bomb survivors are quoted as saying that the act was distasteful, and the head of the Hiroshima Prefecture branch of Hidankyo (Japan A-bomb Sufferers Association) described the performance as a “self-righteous ego-trip” that had nothing to do with Peace. Chim↑Pom leader, Ushiro, is quoted as saying that he regretted offending survivors, but maintained that the purpose of the work was to appeal to a generation which grown up in which has been lucky enough not to experience the horrors of war.

On October 23 Chugoku Shinbun reported that the museum had made a public apology and Ushiro was quoted as saying that the art group would consider what action it would take in its own way. The following day Mujinto Productions published the following apology and notice that the group, in consultation with the museum, they had decided to pull the planned exhibition.

このたび僕たちが作品制作のために、広島で行ったことに対し、被爆者の方々、
ご遺族、ご家族、並びにその関係者の皆様に大変不快な思いをさせてしまいましたことを、
深くお詫び致します。
事前に皆様とお話する機会にこだわるべきであったと思っています。
なお、今回開催予定の展覧会は、美術館とも相談し、自粛することに決めました。
展覧会に出品予定でした千羽鶴の制作にご協力いただきました皆様にも、
今回展示ができなくなったことに対し、同時に深くお詫び致します。
皆様と思いをもう一度重ね合わせる努力をした上で、
再度制作に向かいたいと思っています。

Chim↑Pom(チン↑ポム)

As well as apologizing to survivors and their families, they say they now recognize that they should have consulted with such groups before going ahead. They also apologize to the people who had helped make 1000 origami peace cranes planned to be used in another piece and hope that at some time in the future they will have the opportunity to show the work.

 

Paul Walsh

Paul arrived in Hiroshima "for a few months" back in 1996. He is the co-founder of GetHiroshima.com and loves running in the mountains.

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