Wednesday, April 20, 2011


The title of this post, ゲルニカ reads "Guernica" in Japanese.

Next Tuesday 26 of April will mark both (in chronological order) the 74th anniversary of the bombing of Guernica in the Basque Country by the Luftwaffe during the Spanish Civil War (26 April, 1937) and the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl explosion in Ukraine (26 April, 1986). Of course it will also take place on the 57th day of the on-going Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan.

I've been wondering for a long time why there is no equivalent of Picasso's Guernica for Chernobyl. Is it because we are swamped with too many images in the contemporary world, so we don't even notice?  I've also been asking myself if someone will ever produce a Guernica of climate change. What would it need to be noticed above the background noise? And of course now I'd like to know if someone is locked somewhere, in Tokyo, Osaka, anywhere else in Japan or the world, producing furiously the Guernica of Fukushima. Takashi Murakami, maybe? 

The photo illustrating this post was not taken in front of the original Guernica, which has been in Madrid since 1981. It was taken (a dozen years ago as you can see from the hair on my head) in NewYork in front of the tapestry copy of Guernica authorized by Picasso and donated by Nelson Rockefeller to the United Nations. Normally (that is, not during the current massive UN building refurbishment operation that started a few months ago) it stands outside the UN Security Council, facing its members when they go in to make important decision, and facing them again when they go out after decisions are taken -- good ones and bad ones. Guernica's tapestry copy has never prevented bad decisions (or coward absence of decision) by the UN Security Council. But its presence was found so troubling  that the Bush administration sought its removal in 2003 during the infamous sessions where they sought authorization for their war on Iraq. If there was a Guernica of Fukushima it would be a good idea to offer it, for example, to the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna. For example.