Curated Contemporary Art Since 2003
Selection 0

PENGKUEI "BEN" HUANG - Coastal Mammoth: The Great Seawall Of Japan


Artist Statement

In the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, the Japanese government launched several reconstruction projects to rebuild the region devastated by the disaster. Part of the plan includes reconstructing seawalls along the northeastern coast, with a budget of $12 billion. Upon completion, an average of 14 meters of concrete barriers would be erected along the 400km coast, essentially altering the landscape. 

The construction has been controversial from the start. While experts and many coastal residents agree new barriers would minimize the damage of future tsunamis, opponents worried that the structure would give people a false sense of security. But the structure poses a question: Is it the future of coastal landscapes beyond Japan? We’re facing more and more extreme weather due to climate change and perhaps gigantic barriers on pristine coasts around the globe would become an inevitable means to combat the rising sea level. It would drastically shift our relationship with the sea, physically and psychologically, should these structures become integral parts of our lives.

Nevertheless, these static lines of grey concrete along the coast of northeastern Japan will be forming a new coastline that will irreversibly impact both the environment and its inhabitants in the region. While it may be a legacy born out of the disaster that brought the destruction, these walls remind us of our complex relationship with nature.