Lost in transition

Photographer Boris Wilensky imagines a dark future, inspired by the nuclear disaster of Fukushima

Lost in transition

Japan is arguably one of the most futuristic countries in the world. Think of any big Japanese city and you’ll no doubt conjure up images of dazzling neon lights, rushing roads and space-age technology (robot chefs and bullet trains to name just a two).

But French photographer Boris Wilensky experienced two very different countries when he visited both before and after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster caused by the tsunami. When Wilensky returned, he found the city had become darker, both literally
and figuratively.

It was a juxtaposition that influenced his photo series Hurban Vortex. Inspired by the coastal city, the photos were taken in Japan, China, Thailand and Cambodia, and the final pieces split into three distinct sections: “Origins”, “Collapse” and “Post”.

Origins documents the present, Collapse is concerned with imagining the near future, while Post questions the possibility of a more distant aftermath, when cities might cease to exist entirely.

Together, the series forms an apocalyptic narrative, with images of chaotic, vibrant modern life filled with technology merging into images reminiscent of war and dark images of destruction.

But humans remain at the core of Wilensky’s work, with portraiture taking centre stage against changing urban landscapes. He wanted to examine the ways in which human identity are transformed, and often dissolved, by urban and suburban spaces, and the forces that shift the positioning of mankind in its environments. Something that artists will no doubt be questioning for years and years to come.
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