Making of "The Juice of War - Hiroshima & Nagasaki -"

Maki Ueda
for “The smell of war” exhibition

Title: The Juice of War Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Year: 2015

When I was a child, my bedroom contained a shelf of my mother’s books and one of these book was about Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Inside I found photos of burned and rotten bodies. A field full of bodies that no longer look like bodies. It was in the high summer season so the bodies would quickly rot and flies laid eggs wherever they could.

The photos were so shocking to me that for nights I was afraid to go to sleep.  But I did not dare ask my mother to remove that book from my bedroom because it seemed rude to the victims. As I grew up I peeked into the book again and again, out of curiosity for the atomic bombings, and I realized that I was getting better in dealing with the fear. I ended up sleeping with that book until I left home at the age of 17.

I completely forgot about these pictures, but all of sudden, while I was thinking what to show here, I realized that they were the reason why I could not think anything else beside the smell of rotten flesh when I think of “the smell of war”.

In other words, working on this concept was digging into my memories.

Please put your head in a bowl. This smell was manually extracted from the juice of burned and rotten flesh.

The interface design:

I saw the acrylic bowl myself because there was no company who could do this... it was quite some work.

Purchasing the parts for "katrol"

And I bought pieces of meat at a local supermarket: checkin and pork, and burned them.

And dried them for 10 days in the sunlight.

This is the simulation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was high in the summer time when they got bombed, and the burned corps got rotten quickly.  Flies lay eggs and it stank terribly everywhere.

After 5 or 6 days they started to smell like a garbage.  Around the 10th day it started to stink sour, and this was the limit (also for my neighbor...).

I extracted a little to check the smell and turned out that it was missing the burned scent, so I burned them extra.

Then sliced them.  My cutting board was suddenly covered with the flies. It was like a horror movie. I couldn't inhale even, so I inhaled the fresh air 10m away and ran to the cutting board.

After the extraction, I filterd it, but it also releases smells everywhere... I got headache from it.  If I would have continued this process I would have gotten depressed.

In my fridge is the extract and beer mixed up.

The organizer was preparing the interface as exactly as I indicated... I feel really grateful to them.

Before the opening I infused the scent in the bowl and cleaned the surface.

The prime minister of Vlamish government also enjoyed the work at the opening.

The castle De Loving, Poperinge, Belgium.

The Smell of War exhibition:


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