Guerilla art group Chim↑Pom pull exhibition after “Pika” sky drawing controversy
Chris Salzburg at Global Voices Online has picked up on a local controversy that unfolded last week.
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.
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.