by Gerad Rancinan (Polaris)
“My photographs are mere details, fragments of humanity. My work has no other goal but to recount the world I hazard upon, to accompany my contemporaries on a journey, to fix memory in place, to fight incessantly against forgetting”-Gerard Rancinan
Kinuyo Watanabe, age 82, was 23 at the time and 2 km away from the Hypocenter. He is a hibakusha, a survivor of a day when the world went dark. In 1957, the Japanese government recognized certain people as hibakusha:
- Those who had been within 4km of the epicenter the day of the explosion (August 6, 1945)
- Those who had been within 2km of the epicenter within two weeks of the explosion.
- Those caught in the Black Rain.
- Those who treated the victims in the city suburbs.
- Those who were in the wombs of their hibakusha mothers.
Two witnesses were required to validate hibakusha status.
About 85,000 people who lived in Hiroshima and its environs on Aug. 6, 1945, are still alive. For many, that morning was the beginning of a lifetime of struggle–to overcome not only the physical ailments associated with radiation but also the psychic trauma caused by years of rejection from their own society, which shunned the survivors out of fear they could contaminate others. French photographer Gerard Rancinan traveled to Hiroshima in 2005 to photograph the hibakusha and record their stories. Seventy agreed to pose, some holding childhood photos or pictures of family members killed in the bombing. The survivors wrote their names in white marker next to their portraits and recorded how far they were from ground zero on Aug. 6. Taken together, the pictures are striking reminders of the bomb’s life-altering effects. And they bear witness to the human capacity to withstand the worst ravages of war.
Gerad Rancinan is possesses a creative vision of the portrait that places him as a leading photographer in this field. Visit his website to enjoy the variety of styles, subjects and settings that he has created with famous people and with regular individuals. This work capturing the hibakusa is an example of his reach in photography and well different from his commercial work.
Gerard Rancinan took second place in the Best Published Picture Story category as well as an Honorable Mention in the Local Portrait and Personality category. It also received an award of excellence at the Picture of The Year competition for this work. See the images here.