Photographic perspective: Salvaged shots from Japanese tsunami come to Intersection of the Arts


Let the photos above serve as a reminder that your humpday muck-ups really aren't the cataclysms they seem to be.

The shots are from an exhibit that opens today at Intersection for the Arts called "(re)collection: Family Photos Swept By the 3/11 Japan Tsunami". They're representative ofa massive collection of photographs salvaged from crushed homes in the wake of the 2011 magnitude 9.0 earthquake offshore from the island nation. That'd be the one that caused the devastating tsunami, flattening coastal towns like Tohoku, where massive numbers of lives were lost and where these images were collected by rescue workers. 

It started organically, the effort that later came to be know as the Memory Salvage Project. People -- police officers, military troops, firefighters -- just started bringing the damaged photos to the gymnasium of a Tohoku elementary school.

750,000 were collected, if you can believe it or not. And now, on display on the somber walls of Intersection, are men wearing 3D glasses, babies riding grandpas, formal shots of kimono and stiff-looking, suit-clad groups. There's some images that have been destroyed as completely as the lives they were meant to document. Unintelligible photos are on display as well.

"It's really one of the most profound things I've worked on in my 14 years here at Intersection," Kevin Chen, the art organization's program director for visual arts, told us in an email that accompanied the images for this post. The show serves as a reminder of the blanketing tragedy of natural disaster, and should clarify that the GChat blowout you just had with your boyfriend truly does not qualify as the end of the world. 

"(re)collection: Family Photos Swept by the 3/11 Japan Tsunami"

Through Oct. 27

Opening reception: Wed/12 7-9pm, free

Intersection for the Arts

925 Mission, SF