Memories Buried in the Ashes of the Past

By Karla Ortiz

On April 5, Yasuaki Yamashita, a native of Nagasaki and a survivor of the bombing, came to the Miguel Malo Auditorium at Bellas Artes to present a screening of the documentary Hiroshima Nagasaki Download by Shinpei Takeda. The artist presented also his work on sculpture and waving.

The film screening was attended by the general public and by foreigners who expressed shock about the subject. They came to meet one of the survivors who, like all the Japanese present at the attack, suffered a great deal throughout his life in order to free himself from the feeling of resentment, contempt and sadness.

In the documentary, Shinpei and a friend from college toured the United States in search of survivors who had left behind their memories of Japan. Some had the expectation of finding a new life and forgetting the horrible scenes they lived through in their childhood, while others carried a thirst for revenge for having watched their loved ones die in front of them. More than 15 people were interviewed during the filmmakers’ trip, most of whom had never dared to tell anyone—not even their own families—about the things they had witnessed 60 years ago. Their heartbreaking stories touched the hearts of each and every one of the attendees in the auditorium. After letting those memories out—and their feelings—many survivors in the film reported feeling finally free.

At the end of the screening, Yamashida shared with the audience the terror he experienced as a child with his family. The detonation destroyed homes and contaminated the community with radiation, which, besides the many people left dead by the bomb, killed more in the following years through radiation-related diseases such as leukemia. At the same time, Yamashida took the opportunity to talk about his protest for peace with the countries that have nuclear weapons, stating that last year at the UN, an agreement was signed that provides for the elimination of all nuclear weapons and their manufacture. However, the nine countries that possess such weapons have refused to sign the agreement, or even to present themselves at the negotiations.

While an exact figure is not known for certain, the nuclear nations together possess about 15,000 nuclear weapons, all of them even more potent than those detonated in Japan in 1945.

To find out more about these events, visit the work of the artist Shinpei Takeda, whose exhibit will be at Bellas Artes, until April 20.

 

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