Tomohiro Muda is presenting a series of haunting photographs in an exhibition Icons of Time: Memories of the Tsunami that Struck Japan at the Fitzrovia Chapel in London this weekend. The Japanese photographer’s first UK show commemorates six years since Japan’s northeastern coast was hit by a powerful earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.
After the disaster, Muda set out on a mission to photograph and document the conditions of the affected areas. His first attempt three weeks after the event was unsuccessful due to the overwhelming grief he experienced upon seeing the devastation. Around nine months later, he returned and photographed roughly 5,000 items. Icons of Time will feature a small selection of these pictures.
Muda says: "The objects featured in my works may appear to be mere debris, things abandoned by the tsunami, but they’re not. Each item belonged to someone and suggests the presence of someone who is no longer present. In this exhibition, these fragments tell stories of a post-tsunami landscape and allow us to imagine the activity in these areas before the tsunami."
The Fitzrovia Chapel has an evocative history as the chapel for the old Middlesex Hospital, it was never consecrated but for decades was open to all as a space for quiet contemplation to patients, doctors, nurses and visitors. Today, it is open once again to the community and will provide a beautifully reflective and thought-provoking setting for the exhibition.
Tomohiro Muda is a photographer based in Tokyo and was born in Nara Prefecture in 1956. In 1980, he graduated from Waseda University, and in 1982 began living in and photographing a Sherpa village in the Himalayas. Since his 1988 exhibition The Land of Sherpa, he has searched far and wide for the "primordial connection between humans, nature and space", and a variety of other phenomena, releasing them in exhibitions and books. His works have been exhibited widely in Japan and abroad. Discover more at muda-photo.com.
Icons of Time: Memories of the Tsunami that Struck Japan at the Fitzrovia Chapel will run until 21 May, open 11am-6pm daily.
All images © Tomohiro Muda, by courtesy of the artist. Main image: 4.3.2011 Sendai, Miyagi, 2012, inkjet pigment print