A monumental painted work of the Hiroshima landscape following the first atomic explosion on the morning of 6 August 1945.
The painting, 2.5m in height by approximately 30m in width, is of oil on paper. The work comprises over 200 assembled fragments, measuring 50cm x 65cm and perfectly integrated into the whole. The completed work represents a unitary body whose single elements cannot be fully appreciated on their own.
The ideal location for exhibiting this project is the city of Hiroshima , Japan .
The project is divided into two distinct periods, Decomposition and Recomposition.
The first period (Decomposition) is further divided into two phases. The painting shall initially be exhibited in a venue large enough to accommodate the entire work. The size of this space should however be adapted to exhibit the work so that the spectator feels him/herself a part of the landscape. To this end, the painting might well extend over several walls (5m/20m/5m or 10m/10m/10m, etc.).
The second phase is the moment of decomposition, a gradual fragmentation leaving a series of voids which conspire to erase the composition. A fixed date shall thus mark the beginning of the second phase (one week following the beginning of the exhibition, for example), at which the painting shall start to be sold, piece by piece, each at the same pre-determined price. Purchasers choose the section(s) which appeal to them, which are then removed from the ensemble.
In the eventuality of all 200 sheets being sold before the end of the exhibition, the wall shall remain bare until the end of the exhibition.
The second exhibition period (Recomposition) shall take place on the day of the subsequent commemoration of the Hiroshima bombing (at most one year after the initial exhibition). Purchasers are invited to return their fragment(s) to the place of exhibition in the spirit of remembrance.
Around the exhibition
The painting shall be accompanied by a publication reproducing it in its entirety, also possibly containing a series of eyewitness accounts of the tragedy.
The creation of a website has also been envisaged, offering purchasers the opportunity to register their purchase in order to produce a living record of the work.
The entire project shall also be captured on video, relating the different stages of creation, exhibition and sale. In particular, the sale shall be filmed by a fixed camera recording the progressive Decomposition of the painting. The same procedure shall document its Recomposition. The parallel between Paris and Hiroshima shall be the focus of particular attention, notably Paris as place of conception and Hiroshima , of total destruction, as testified to in various archives.
Concept and Completion
This painting is above all a monument to memory itself, a reflection upon our collective memory, our perception of history. The project involves the metaphoric and ritual representation of humankind's destructive action as well as its capacity for reconciliation and reconstruction.
Hiroshima : total and instantaneous destruction, the ultimate, explosive manifestation of humankind's murderous power. A single second of History whose witnesses were also its victims and which changed irrevocably the destiny of humanity. The monumental dimensions of the work are the expression of the event's importance to human memory. But the two hundred or so composite elements, each incomplete without the others, are also illustrative of the dissipation of this same memory, shared by thousands of eyes, each pair of which reflect a direct or indirect perception of the monstrosity itself.
Thereafter, the necessary oblivion betrays neither indifference nor an incapacity to remember but is rather a testament to life itself. Oblivion as the emotive and psychological reaction to trauma. Survival implies forgetting insofar as rendering daily life livable. It is this concept which the Decomposition and dispersal of the work seeks to commemorate.
Anniversaries allow suffering emerge from the shadows, bestowing on it the right of recognition. The work is recomposed in its new, natural state, the holes which might appear in it (due to lost or damaged fragments, purchasers incommunicado) reflective of the fragility of our increasingly tenuous memory. The Recomposition responds to a need for the maintenance of memory, the need to guard against the progressive disappearance of witnesses and memories cancelling the tragedy from the collective consciousness.
The purchase of parts of the work by visitors is thus expressive of their participation in and sense of belonging to the event. A significant portion of the acquisition price shall be donated to War Victims funds, making of visitor participation more than just a theoretical exercise.
Paris, January 20 th 2002