“We wanted to show what the inhabitants have to face when they come back to the place where they used to live,” say the photographers of their work, which they’re presenting at Fotofever this weekend
Photographers Guillaume Bression and Carlos Ayesta spent six months covering the immediate aftermath of the disaster for the French media, and decided to work on a much longer project together. Keen to create something “between documentary and staged photography”, they started by using torches to illuminate the streets around the plant at night. Several bodies of work followed, with the most recent instalment seeing them invite former residents back for a series of staged environmental portraits.
The result, Retracing Our Steps – Fukushima Exclusion Zone 2011-2016, has the appearance of a series of film stills, carefully lit and very surreal. In one image a young man wearing headphones poses in an old record shop, destruction all around him; in another, a woman stands behind a shopping trolley in what’s left of a supermarket. Depicting what would have been ordinary scenes, the photographs are familiar yet also post-apocalyptic.