Isabel Roxas: The Tohoku Series (at Liongoren Gallery, Manila, 2013)
Two years ago, the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami devastated the Northeast region of Japan. As an Asian now living in abroad, I am most acutely made aware of the distance between myself and my homeland when natural disasters from back home flood the news channels. Whether it is a tsunami in Indonesia, a typhoon in the Philippines, or the recent disasters in Japan, these events stir both feelings of helplessness and distance with a great desire to contribute assistance in any way I can.
What was different about the Tohoku event was that the disaster, in a sense, made its way across the ocean to me. While much of the 5 million tons of debris from the quake sank into the Pacific, around 30% of it caught the ocean currents and made its way to the shores of North America. These object ranged from small, personal household items to fishing boats and sections of piers. There have been some heartwarming stories of the lost items being reunited with their owners, but the organic debris have also been a cause for concern for U.S. officials who are worried about the introduction of an invasive species to a totally new environment.
With this series I have documented some of these objects, along with the co-ordinates of where they washed ashore. It is interesting to me that the vast ocean, which at times makes me feel very far from home, can sometimes close the gap a little bit in surprising ways.