Representing disaster. The Minamata Mural by Noriaki Tsuchimoto

The essential filmmaker Noriaki Tsuchimoto explores the relationship between beauty and catastrophe, art and collective memory by accompanying the painters Iri and Toshi Maruki as they create a memorial mural for the victims of the "Minamata Disease", the most serious industrial disaster in Japan's history.

For more than three decades, the chemical company Chisso dumped tonnes of mercury into Minamata Bay. The poisoning of the surrounding populations resulted in thousands of cases of malformations and irreversible neurological disorders, also passed down genetically. The resistance of the victims and their unrelenting organisation to prove Chisso's liability and demand fair financial compensation was documented by Tsuchimoto in a series of seventeen films and videos made between 1971 and 2004.

The Minamata Mural is a unique film within this monumental cycle. Tsuchimoto shifts his usual focus to capture the creative process of a husband and wife team of painters (the renowned Iri and Toshi Maruki, in their artistic maturity at the time of filming) who are commissioned to paint a mural commemorating the victims of Minamata. Alternating the couple's work in the studio with their visits to local communities, and with his brilliant use of colour and editing, this feature-length film is a meditation on the representation of collective trauma, the portrayal of the expressiveness of neurodivergent bodies, the memory of horror, both in the physical and in the plastic arts, as well as artistic collaboration and the tension between tradition and modernity in Japanese art.

Minamata no zu monogatari, Noriaki Tsuchimoto, 1981, 16 mm, 111', original language with Catalan subtitles.

16 mm projection.

Copy from Palabra. With thanks to Ricardo Matos Cabo.

28 April 2024



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