On March 11th, 2011, the Tohoku region on the pacific coast of Japan was devastated with a triple catastrophe: earthquake, tsunami, nuclear incident. It resulted in more than 15,800 deaths, 6,100 injured, 2,600 missing, and 128,000 destroyed buildings. How can one live near or within such a traumatized landscape? How does one comprehend and represent the long-term impact of such a catastrophe in order to move forward? Can Tohoku be rebuilt, both physically and in people’s minds?
In 2012, Michel Huneault went to Tohoku with these questions in mind, dividing his time between volunteering with rehabilitation projects and documenting his experiences in photographs and videos. In late 2015 and early 2016, Huneault went back to Japan’s coast, believing that a perspective developed over time is essential to understanding the subtleties of how trauma and rehabilitation evolve.
Post Tohoku is part of Huneault’s long-term commitment to looking at how communities deal with large-scale traumas. His past work includes a project on Lac-Mégantic, which won the 2014 CONTACT Portfolio Review Award and the 2015 Dorothea Lange–Paul Taylor Prize. Post Tohoku has received the generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Centre Sagamie.