Japanese-born photographer Shin Yahiro superimposes images of the 2011 tsunami disaster over photos of the subsequent recovery and rebuild in the Tōhoku region. The earthquake and tsunami devastated many small coastal towns, and Yahiro was present days after the event recording relief efforts and intimate images of anguish and loss.
After the initial post-tsunami documentation, Yahiro returned to the site one year later and brought his snapshots with him to create these layered images. The results are clever without being glib, striking without being maudlin, and give us a sense of how much work has been done to clear away the debris in the aftermath of the tsunami, and the vast amount of rebuilding left to be done.
What we don’t see in this series of images is the “before”––as outsiders, we have no idea what Tōhoku was like before the wave hit. What we are left with are images that can be considered either bleak or hopeful (looking forward to the future), with no acknowledgement of the past before the disaster. At heart, they seem to be about process, a steady and determined effort to move forward, however slowly, in the face of difficulties.