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Perpetual Uncertainty: Umeå

Bildmuseet, Umeå, Sweden, 2 October 2016- 16 April 2017

Perpetual Uncertainty / Contemporary Art in the Nuclear Anthropocene brings together artists from Europe, Japan, the USA and Australia to investigate experiences of nuclear technology, radiation and the complex relationship between knowledge and the deep time.

The artworks explore how nuclear weapons and nuclear power has influenced our interpretation of concepts such as archives, memory, knowledge and time. How can we understand and visualise the ungraspable timeframe of radioactive half-life? How can we archive and communicate knowledge about radioactivity from generation to generation, hundreds of thousands of years into the future?

Curated by Ele Carpenter (Goldsmiths/Arts Catalyst), with artists: James Acord, Shuji Akagi, Lise Autogena & Joshua Portway, Erich Berger and Mari Keto, Nick Crowe and Ian Rawlinson, Don’t Follow the Wind, Finger Pointing Worker, Dave Griffiths, Isao Hashimoto, Erika Kobayashi, David Mabb, Cécile Massart, Eva and Franco Mattes, Yelena Popova, Susan Schuppli, Shimpei Takeda, Kota Takeuchi, Thomson & Craighead, Suzanne Treister, Andy Weir, Robert Williams and Bryan McGovern Wilson, and Ken + Julia Yonetani.

The exhibition includes a programme of films, open discussions and talks by researchers and experts. The film programme presents art films, documentaries and feature film by Todd Chandler, Jeff Stark, Eva and Franco Mattes, Merilyn Fairskye, Nina Fischer and Maroan el Sani, Peter Galison and Rob Moss, Karen Kramer, Akira Kurosawa, Fredrik Oskarsson, Cécile Massart, and Jane and Louise Wilson.

The exhibition is accompanied by The Nuclear Culture Source Book, a collaboration between Bildmuseet, Arts Catalyst and Black Dog Publishing.

Nuclear Cultures: HADES

Arts Catalyst & Z33 House for Contemporary Arts, Belgium, 11 – 13 July 2016

A field trip to HADES, Belgium’s underground research lab in Mol, for geologic disposal of high-level radioactive waste. Organised by Nuclear Cultures project in with Z33 (Hasselt), and ONDRAF/NIRAS (Belgian agency for radioactive waste and enriched fissile materials), artists Kota Takeuchi, Andy Weir, Dave Griffiths and curators Ils Huygens and Ele Carpenter spent 3 days visiting Z33 and meeting Christoph Depaus, Maarten Van Geet and Jantine Schröder at SCK.

I organised Deep Field [Club Golf Nuclea Mol] – an art-science golfing dialogue reflecting on time as underground moles in the HADES research bunker, and re-enacting leisure pursuits of post-war nuclear workers. I’m collecting thoughts and feelings on future mattering of time and space implied by burying, and co-existing with, nuclear waste. I’m producing content for Deep Field [Unclear Zine], a microfiche fanzine collaging poetry, drawing, data, photographs and interviews that attempts to translate the contemporary radioactive waste repository for far-future readers, as a folkloric site of conflict and unknowing. 

The HADES lab was constructed in 1980, at 255 metres underground, to research possibilities of geological disposal in deep clay strata. Like underground facilities in France, Sweden and Japan, the research lab is not intended to be used as a final repository for radioactive waste. Hades is also the Greek god of the underworld.

 

Treblinka: Archaeological Investigations & Artistic Responses

centre-of-archaeology-logo_tcm44-72700Treblinka: Archaeological Investigations & Artistic Responses (2016), eds. Caroline Sturdy Colls & Michael Branthwaite, Stoke: Centre of Archaeology Special Issue, ISBN 9781534632295

Between 800,000 and 1 million people lost their lives at Treblinka extermination camp during the Holocaust. A further 10,00 perished in the nearby labour camp as a result of the Nazi death through work policy and ad hoc executions. Since 2007 both camps have been the subject of forensic archaeological research by Dr Caroline Sturdy Colls, to reveal new insights into the nature and extent of Nazi persecution.

This book presents the major findings, which included the discovery of the gas chambers, personal effects of victims, and mass graves. It also includes artistic response to these findings, curated by Michael Branthwaite and commissioned as part of the international exhibition Finding Treblinka. Featuring new artworks by Michael Branthwaite, Dave Griffiths, Janine Goldsworthy, Hilary Jack and Jenny Steele, this opened at the Museum of Struggle and Martyrdom in Treblinka, Poland in August 2015 and the Wiener Library in London, UK in June 2016.

BEEF: Bristol

BEEFBristol Experimental & Expanded Film, 7-11 September
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Along with other Film Material artists I visited Bristol for a week in BEEF’s artist’s film lab and project space. The week included a reading group, show & tell about recent practice, a 16mm film workshop & a final screening & performance event. During the residency I tested a new process – using the darkroom to contact print onto 35mm archival microfilm, which I then sprocketed by hand and ran through the Micromatic projector. Many thanks to Louisa Fairclough, Kim Knowles, Vicky Smith and BEEF artists for hosting our visit.
Film Material artists Annie Carpenter, Clara Casian, Matt Denniss, Dave Griffiths & James Snazell got together with BEEF for a residency week in Bristol.  BEEF’s Kim Knowles led a reading group, looking at New Materialist texts, and in Tuesday’s show & tell Film Material presented recent work, along with talks & screenings by Vicky Smith, Alexander Stevenson and Shirley Pegna. Vicky ran a 16mm film workshop, and we attended the expanded cinema event by Rose Kallal at CUBE Microplex.

Annie Carpenter developed ideas for her October voyage on a tall ship with The Arctic Circle residency. Clara Casian experimented with 35mm found slides, whilst Matt Denniss edited new video work and James Snazell trialled 16mm film performance ideas. The week culminated in a BEEF event where the group showed results, along with multi-projector performance Oxide (ii)+(iii) by Ben Gwilliam, made using iron rusting, 16mm and Super 8 film and magnetic sound. Many thanks to Louisa Fairclough, Kim Knowles and Vicky Smith for hosting our visit.

 

Deep Field [Looking Squarely Ahead]

35mm B&W microfilm collage, microfiche reader, 350 x 400 x 350mm

 “Looking squarely ahead, brave and joyous, at the world. The squads march to work. All that matters to us now is Treblinka. It is our destiny.” Song by Kurt Franz, Treblinka commandant, August-November 1943

Viewers browse through a layered, compressed representation of trench TREB04, excavated in 2013 on the site of the gas chamber at Treblinka, Poland. Magnified microfilm fragments depict archaeological trench finds that locate place and corroborate Holocaust eyewitness testimony. Viewers perform the evidence, as durational observers who optically uncompress the material over time. They navigate the brief time and space of the camp’s mechanised, chaotic extermination and demolition, enacting gestures inherent to decoding the indexical illusions of both photography and forensis. Data and images from the excavation combine with microfilm’s archival potential as carrier of textual evidence for future translation.

Produced for the touring exhibition Finding Treblinka: Artists Respond, commissioned by Centre for Archaeology, Staffordshire University, and funded by Rothschild Foundation.  Data courtesy of forensic archaeologist Caroline Sturdy-Colls.