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Pierpaolo Mittica February 19, 2015

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Japan.

Near the Fukushima nuclear accident. Tomioka, Japan 2011

Pierpaolo Mittica (b.1971, Italy) studied photography with Charles Henri Favrod, Naomi Rosenblum and Walter Rosenblum, his spiritual father in photography. His photographs were exhibited in Europe and United States and have been published in I l’Espresso, Vogue Italia, Repubblica, Panorama, Photomagazine, Days Japan International The Guardian, Asian Geo and others His work is in the Permanent collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Fratelli Alinari Museum, Florence Chernobyl National Museum, Kiev, Fotografiska Museum, Stockholm and the Auer collection in Switzerland. His books include: The Balkans, from Bosnia to Kosovo,Chernobyl- The hidden legacy, Cip is not Afraid and Ashes/Ceneri. Pierpaolo is based in Italy.

About the Photograph:

“I took this photograph in July 2011, only a few months after the Fukushima nuclear accident. I was inside the Exclusion Zone with an Italian journalist and friend Pio d’Emilia. We were inside illegally without official permission from the government to report the situation. The Zone was completely empty. It was evacuated two days after the accident and the government on April 20 created an exclusion zone of 20 km radius around the plant. No one was allowed to go inside.”

“After a few days around the zone, we arrived in Tomioka, one of the evacuated towns. Tomioka had sixteen thousand inhabitants before the evacuation. We heard noises in the distance and thought they were the police so we approached silently to try and understand what was happening. We discovered that there were about 15 people in white suits with masks and gloves going around the town and inside houses, like ghosts. We approached them and  discovered that they were residents coming back with a special permit from the government to collect their belongings in their evacuated houses, and then leaving forever. We stayed with them all the afternoon, interviewing and photographing them. This image was made towards the end of our meeting with the residents. The three people inside the bus were waiting for their neighbors to evacuate and leave their houses forever. After a day had passed they were absorbed in their thoughts and feelings with a mix of sorrow, sadness and anger. They took away only a few things: documents, photographs. Only a few memories of a life they would never return to again.”