mandy barker collages collected debris from the japanese tsunami mandy barker collages collected debris from the japanese tsunami
feb 07, 2014

mandy barker collages collected debris from the japanese tsunami

mandy barker collages collected debris from the japanese tsunami
(above) 29.24N, 172.05E
(included with trawl: children’s toys collected on tsunami shoreline)
all images courtesy of mandy barker




UK based photographer mandy barker demonstrates the impact of the 2011 tsunami in japan through her photo collages, which have been assembled from items collected from the disaster area. while sailing across the debris field in the pacific ocean, barker gathered various, found plastic objects — the focal medium of the series — from trawls and net samples at different points between japan, hawaii and the shoreline in fukushima prefecture; a boot laced to the top, a pair of children’s shoes, buckets, cups, caps, a felt-tipped marker, a syringe and a coat hanger are unmistakable reminders of lives lost. ‘shoal’ — meaning to mourn, to grieve, to remember a devastating event in japanese — represents a visual awareness of plastic pollution essential for scientific research, but more importantly the memorial of a tragic event.


33.15N, 151.15E
(included with trawl: tatami mat from the floor of a japanese home, finishing related plastics, buoys, nylon rope, buckets, fish trays, polystyrene floats, shampoo bottle, caps, ballon and holder, petrol container)

the arrangements of the abandoned items are composed based on swimming and navigation patterns of different species of fish that the plastic ultimately affects. for the collages, the objects have been duplicated to represent both the monumental scale of lives lost and the amount of plastic that entered the ocean. barker explains that ‘the unidentified plastic particles seem to represent people, and similarities are seen in the plastics collected; a piece of bad like a face, styrofoam life bone, a twisted bottleneck like a flower, a plastic tag like a butterfly. a reminder of life from retrieved pieces, not only from what objects they have been, and where they have come from, but more importantly from whom they belonged.’

31.15N, 155.22E
(included with trawl: rescue workers helmet, glove, shoe sole, suitcase handle, flip flop, coat hanger, bath brush, ball, kitchen cleaning containers, drinks crate, flower, tube with the words ‘tears in cream’)

30.15N, 158.51E
(included with trawl: japanese truck tire with axle sheared off)

30.27, 163.28
(included with trawl: x3 pieces of plastic bag)

30.04N, 168.10E
(included with trawl: child’s toy gun found on tsunami shoreline – imprint ‘made in japan’)

30.2N, 176.45E
(included with trawl: tsunami fishing boat sheared from its mooring, with pieces of plastic)

30.41N, 157.51E
(included with trawl: child’s ball and japanese character, fridge magenta found on tsunami shoreline, fishing buoy found in trawl sample, north pacific)


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