Arata Isozaki. Re-ruined Hiroshima, project, Hiroshima, Japan (Perspective). 1968

Arata Isozaki Re-ruined Hiroshima, project, Hiroshima, Japan (Perspective) 1968

  • Not on view

In 1968 a series of uprisings that shook university campuses and cities worldwide also revolution­ized aesthetic thought, partly by challenging the value of art, architecture, and design. In May of that year, Isozaki designed a large-scale installation with mobile screens, ambient sound, and projections on drawings and photographs for the Milan Triennale. Titled Electric Labyrinth, it was subsequently destroyed by protesting students and professors.

Based on Electric Labyrinth, this photocollage critiques societies in crisis and their failed responses to history by depicting an outstretched horizon and skeletal structures littering a grid of streets. The desolate panorama invites contemplation of the violence that inscribes Japanese, if not global, landscapes and architecture. The fragments here are former spaces of inhabitation incinerated by an atomic bomb—wreckage that Isozaki called “dead architecture.” Like his contemporaries, he sought to remove hierarchies and ideological impediments from the built environment; here the architect merged scenes of annihilation with images of broken buildings that once connoted institutional and economic power. For him, the restitution of the city, and, by extension, of society, required “the operation of the imagination.” Isozaki’s vision is both history lesson and portentous tale of what might become of us if we are not checked. The city’s remnants have buckled into its already degraded ground; architecture thus records acts of destruction and the collective histories of failed geopolitics, destructive technologies, and fragile societies in collapse.

Publication excerpt from MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019)
Additional text

Haunted by the remaining destruction of Hiroshima twenty-two years after the atomic bomb was exploded there, Arata Isozaki has projected images of his megastructures onto a photomural of the razed city. In this image his constructions are also in ruins. It is as if he had rebuilt Hiroshima, and it had once again undergone destruction. Ruins provide an important metaphor for Isozaki: "They are dead architecture. Their total image has been lost. The remaining fragments require the operation of the imagination if they are to be restored."

Publication excerpt from an essay by Bevin Cline and Tina di Carlo, in Terence Riley, ed., The Changing of the Avant-Garde: Visionary Architectural Drawings from the Howard Gilman Collection, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2002, p. 101.
Medium
Ink and gouache with cut-and-pasted gelatin silver print on gelatin silver print
Dimensions
13 7/8 x 36 7/8" (35.2 x 93.7 cm)
Credit
Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation
Object number
1205.2000
Copyright
© 2021 Arata Isozaki
Department
Architecture and Design

Installation views

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at [email protected].

Licensing

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit https://www.moma.org/research-and-learning/circulating-film.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].

Feedback

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].