David Blandy: Atomic Light, David Trigg, δημοσίευση στο Studio International [22/3/2023]
John Hansard Gallery, Southampton
[11 February – 6 May 2023]
Drawing on family lore, Blandy’s four provocative films take us from the horrors of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima to current fears about the survival of our planet, but ultimately provide a glimmer of hope for a less apocalyptic future.
“There is a familial myth that my late grandfather would not have survived being a Japanese prisoner of war had the atomic bombing of Hiroshima not occurred,” says David Blandy. “So, it could be argued that I owe my existence to one of the most terrifying events of human history.” The artist’s maternal grandfather, David Piper, was one of more than 190,000 British and Commonwealth troops captured by Japan in the second world war. His liberation came in 1945, after the devastating nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki brought the conflict to a swift conclusion. This problematic slice of family lore haunts Blandy’s four interconnected films in Atomic Light at the John Hansard Gallery, which interweaves the present with the past and the future to expand his explorations of history, empire and environmental collapse.
Blandy first addressed his relationship with the A-bomb in the film Child of the Atom (2010), in which scenes showing the artist and his young daughter visiting Hiroshima are juxtaposed with apocalyptic anime. Ostensibly born from a desire to confront feelings of vicarious guilt, the film raises tantalising questions about how we might negotiate the role that historical events and injustices have had in shaping our present way of life. These ideas are integral to the video The Edge of Forever (2022), which opens the exhibition with a mix of science fiction, animation and beautiful cinematography to tell the semi-autobiographical story of two children coming to terms with the inextricable links between their familial history, war and environmental breakdown.
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