%C2%A9 W. Eugene Smith %2F Magnum Photos - All rights reserved

Tomoko Uemura is Bathed by Her Mother, Minamata, Japan, 1972

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One of the most well-known photojournalists in the 20th century, Eugene Smith, with his wife at that time Aileen, took this photograph of Tomoko Uemura bathed by her mother, Ryoko. Tomoko was severally disabled, as a result of mercury poisoning, through her mother who ate fish caught in the nearby bay, contaminated by industrial wastewater from a chemical factory. The Smiths lived in a small fishng village in Southern Japan for four years, and documented the human victims and the natural environments destroyed by industrial pollution.

This photograph was carefully posed and lit by the photographers to create a composition similar to that of Michelangelo's Pietà a sculpture in which Mary holds the dead body of her son Jesus. The Smiths created the photograph as a tool to raise the public's awareness of mercury poisoning and to help the victims’ fight against the polluting corporation and ultimately the Japanese government.

Tomoko Uemura is Bathed by Her Mother, Minamata, Japan
Artist Life
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