'Return to Fukushima', Dark Tourism and the work of Rebecca Bathory.
In recent years our world continues to shrink, not only through easy cheap travel, but a raised level of awareness through media / news outlets and a world of photography that has exploded with people sharing personal expressions of their place on our planet. A growing trend is in the sector affectionately known as 'Dark Tourism' whereby photographers are venturing to the places that most would consider macabre or out of bounds. When handled correctly with respect and sensitivity, this sub-genre of photography is very powerful, thought provoking and amazingly beautiful.
Sitting at the forefront of this artistic medium is Rebecca Bathory, a photographer with an incredible eye for detail and the utmost sympathy in her location shoots, almost becoming one with the surroundings.....it is evident in her work in a way that few can achieve.
I was lucky enough to receive Rebecca's latest book 'Return to Fukushima' as a gift recently, a book who's subject matter deals with and documents the horrific aftermaths of one of the worlds most devastating recent events. March 2011 saw a chain of events stemming from an earthquake in Japan that would devastate and impact much in the way Chernobyl did in 1986, an impact that we are still learning from to this day. These sorts of place's are for most people the last place in the world that they would want to visit, for some of us, myself included, they are places of significant interest and obscure beauty, places that need to be photographed not only to share with the world the beauty in decay, but as an important document for history, documents that need to be written before being reclaimed by the land.
This book came to fruition after Rebecca was finally granted special access to the town of Tomioka in 2016 along with residents, to walk the streets and try to capture this devastated area in her own unique style. What you have here is a lovingly created body of work that is as beautiful as it is important, an insight that not many are given to a world that sits precariously outside our own. This no holds barred way of reporting is the only way that this sort of subject matter can be dealt with, it is very visceral and of a moment, you can feel the emotion that oozes from the pores of the locations, yet still frozen in a moment of despair, panic and personal preservation, but this is where the book succeeds, not only snap shots of individual stories and moments, collectively a towns story of survival and ultimately rebirth.
Rebecca's work squarely sits within dark tourism, but she exhibits a rare eye and a seemingly deep personal connection to the places that are chosen as shoot locations, it is this that makes this book and her work in general so compelling.
Please take the time to visit Rebecca's website and discover more of her amazing work: