Current Project

Taniguchi’s most current project includes the documentation of the lives of the residents in Tohoku, Northeastern part of Japan that was affected by the earthquake and tsunami in March, 2011. This project documents not only the change in the landscape and the ocean, but also the heartwarming efforts dedicated to recovery.

 

“This project meditates on the loss from the collapse of our foundation, through the experiences of the earthquake and tsunami near the Northeastern coast of Japan. In Japanese, the word, human (人間 – ningen) means “a person in the space.”  Our identity is deeply connected to the relationship we establish with the earth.  We cannot exist without a place, yet a place, our land is unstable at times.  When the foundation is no longer solid, all aspects of our lives become questionable.  The earthquake and tsunami suddenly changed the living situation for the residents on the Northeastern coast of Japan.  They are now painfully aware that they are trapped on the earth.  The place, the ocean, that they once loved (swimming in the calm ocean under the bright blue sky) became their enemy.  Recovering from such traumatic and unexpected events required a deeper understand of their relationship with the earth.  Many stories contain the common thread that the first instinctive action for many individuals was to do something to help others instead of securing their own safety and comfort.   In addition to the recovery effort, healing efforts are also taking place, and art has been a central healing tool, bringing people together.  Through this project, I have wittenessed the tremandous resilience that was found through art and narrative in response to trauma, shock and grief.” –Taniguchi, Dec. 2013

 

 

While the earth moves its spine

When I was a child,

just for fun

I plugged up the holes

of ants and stepped

on the ground until

it hardened

like cement.

 

 

Underneath

the flatten roof,

walls,

book shelves,

tables,

doors,

broken dishes,

I wait.

I am

sealed

inside the earth.

 

I always

assumed that ants

could breathe

under the ground

like fish breathe

in the water-

What if I was wrong?

 

 

In the darkness,

I struggle

being

this person

who does not want to die.

 

 

 

Five days later,

five firefighters find my presence

underneath the flattened

roof,

walls,

book shelves,

tables,

doors,

broke dishes.

They peel one

layer

at

a

time

and

pull

me

out

like

an

over-

grown

radish

forgotten

to be

harvested.

 

 

Returning to the surface

of this earth,

I frantically touch everything-

Scattered

papers,

photos,

wires,

woods,

plastics,

all wet,

everywhere, so many

things I have no name for-

 

Most of all,

I have no way to thank the air

who found my small lungs

and stayed close

while I was lost inside the earth.

 

 

 

 

 

A house that fell into the ocean

 

I swam inside this square shape that landed on the bottom of the ocean.

Then something suddenly pulled me up to the surface of the earth.

 

A man found me, spit salvia on my head and shouted, “Get out

of my house, you slimy octopus!”  He untangled my legs and lifted me up

 

with both his hands.  Then he stopped.

He eyes wide open, he sat in his boat.

 

He placed me on his lap and stroked my head.

“Forgive me, Hiroshi. I didn’t see you.”  His tears dropped and covered

 

my eyes.  With water inside my eyes, I could see clearly- the man’s

face was covered by the dark lines of a river.

 

For a long time, the man held me.   “You aren’t coming back,” he said.

“Your eyes are blue and transparent now,” he said.

 

Then he gently threw me back into the ocean.

I didn’t swim away.   I let my body fall, looking at the man.

 

I fell with a familiar feeling, disconnected from everything,

through the bright blue, then down to the night of the ocean,

 

my home, the vast open desert.

 

 

 

Yuko Taniguchi © 2013