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Portrait of a man

Black Atlantic: Power, People, Resistance

Which stories get remembered, and why? This exhibition explores some new stories from history – stories that help us to separate fact from fiction and history from myth.

Lieko Shiga, ‘Portrait of Cultivation’ from Spiral Shore, 2008-2012. © Lieko Shiga, 2023

Picturing the Invisible: Earthquake, Meltdown, Memory

Thu 23 February - Sun 23 April

The Heong Gallery

How does one photograph radiation? Trauma? Or the resilience of communities forced to contend with both? Picturing the Invisible brings together seven celebrated photographers to examine the lasting legacy of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster.

Declared the ‘worst crisis Japan has faced since World War II’ by Prime Minister Naoto Kan, the earthquake and tsunami killed more than 15,000 people and triggered a triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant – forcing 200,000 people from their homes. This exhibition captures how, even today, vast swathes of land remain uninhabitable: the contamination of plants and soil made visible to visitors through technical means. However, it also explores how efforts to decontaminate the region continue. The exclusion zone is slowly shrinking and as evacuation orders are lifted, residents are being incentivised to return home. Few choose to do so – and many of those who do are old. One village found that only a third of its residents chose to return and more than 70% of them are over the age of 65. Those who do return discover that few wish to buy food ‘made in Fukushima’, posing an additional challenge for traditionally agricultural communities. This exhibition provides an intimate portrait of the peoples rebuilding their lives in the affected territories. It examines their memories of disaster, their continued contact with radiation, and their efforts to reclaim their heritage.

The photographs are complimented by a series of short essays, provided by policymakers, experts, and activists united in their deep engagement with the “triple disaster” and nuclear issues. Contributors include: Sir David Warren (British Ambassador to Japan, 2008–12); Science and Technology Studies pioneers, Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard) and Brian Wynne (Lancaster); Japanologists, Richard Samuels (MIT) and Brigitte Steger (Cambridge); ICRP Vice-Chair Jacques Lochard; best selling author, Robert Macfarlane (Cambridge); and famed environmentalist, Aileen Mioko Smith (Director, Green Action and co-author of “Minamata: A warning to the world”).

Cost: Free

Enquiries and booking

No need to book.


In person

12:00pm-5:00pm Wednesday-Sunday every week from Thursday 23 February until Sunday 23 April

All times

Thu 23 February 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Fri 24 February 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Sat 25 February 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Sun 26 February 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Wed 1 March 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Thu 2 March 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Fri 3 March 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Sat 4 March 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Sun 5 March 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Wed 8 March 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Thu 9 March 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Fri 10 March 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Sat 11 March 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Sun 12 March 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Wed 15 March 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Thu 16 March 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Fri 17 March 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Sat 18 March 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Sun 19 March 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Wed 22 March 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Thu 23 March 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Fri 24 March 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Sat 25 March 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Sun 26 March 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Wed 29 March 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Thu 30 March 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Fri 31 March 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Sat 1 April 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Sun 2 April 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Wed 5 April 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Thu 6 April 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Fri 7 April 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Sat 8 April 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Sun 9 April 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Wed 12 April 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Thu 13 April 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Fri 14 April 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Sat 15 April 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Sun 16 April 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Wed 19 April 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Thu 20 April 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Fri 21 April 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Sat 22 April 12:00PM - 5:00PM
Sun 23 April 12:00PM - 5:00PM


Address: The Heong Gallery
Downing College