Michael Koerner | Hibakusha: A tribute to the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings

Opening: Friday, Jul 10, 2020 12 – 7 pm
Friday, Jul 10 – Sep 4, 2020

1637 W. Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

The show runs July 10 through September 4, 2020. View Michael Koerner and Catherine Edelman discussing the work from the exhibition here.

On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, and another one three days later on Nagasaki, killing tens of thousands instantly, and more than 200,000 people in total. Michael Koerner was born in Okinawa, Japan in 1963, the son of a Japanese mother and American military father. For the past few years, Koerner has been making one-of-a-kind tintypes about his family and the effects of gamma radiation that have taken the lives of all members of his immediate family. In honor of the anniversary of the bombing, Koerner created Hibakusha, a photographic series that pays respect to those that passed away and those that survived. Hibakusha is a Japanese word that refers to people affected by the nuclear bombings.

View the work

Words From the Artist

“I wanted to bring attention to those that survived the blast, including my mother, who unfortunately later succumbed to the effects of radiation released on the Japanese people. I decided to make large tintypes that look like families, or people. All the plates are purposely void of color, except silver, which is intrinsic to the tintype process. By eliminating the blue and green hues that are prominent in my recent work, the images take on a haunting glow, reminiscent of the light that appeared in the skies over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I hope viewers will look at these images and reflect on what happened so many years ago and honor those that survived and perished from this nuclear disaster.”



Michael Koerner (Okinawa, Japan, 1963) is the oldest of five brothers. Due to genetic abnormalities and cancer, he is the only remaining living son. His brothers' fates (and potentially his own one day) can be linked to their mother, who was eleven years old on August 9, 1945 when the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. Koerner’s work explores his family history and genetics through small tintypes, using photographic chemistry to assimilate the bursts and the biochemical fallout from the atom bomb.


Top Image: Michael Koerner, Hibakusha Families #0452, 2020, From the Hibakusha series, 8 x 12" collodion on tin, Unique