Perpetual Uncertainty – Art and the Nuclear Anthropocene, Z33 House for Contemporary Art, Hasselt, Belgium, 17 September – 10 December 2017
The exhibition brings together international artists from across Europe, the USA and Japan to investigate experiences of nuclear technology, radiation and the complex relationship between knowledge and deep time. Launch party features commissioned DJ set Sonic Radiations by MeteorMusik.
Curated by Ele Carpenter: “The nuclear anthropocene describes how man-made radiation has contaminated the earth, forming a mark of human activity that will last for hundreds of thousands of years. Whilst 20th century fallout provides a time-stamp of the first nuclear age from nuclear weapons testing; the 21st century repositories for high-level radioactive waste will physically create a new geologic layer in the earth’s fossil record for over 100,000 years. Looking beyond the modernist vision of a utopian nuclear age, contemporary artists are engaging with the lived experience of radiation through nuclear objects, architectures and landscapes. They are investigating new forms of nuclear vernacular, folklore and rethinking the markers and archives of the nuclear anthropocene.
Z33 present the exhibition in their beautiful 18th century beguinage building, a series of interlinking rooms on two sides of a courtyard. Hasselt is a town in the Flemish (Dutch) speaking part of Belgium, which also includes the Belgian Radioactive Waste Research Centre, SCK-CEN, the HADES Underground Research Lab at Mol, and the radioactive waste storage site at Dessel. We have worked closely with the waste agency for a couple of years to arrange site visits and roundtable discussions with artists, and to engage the wider community with the exhibition.”
Roundtable Discussion, Bildmuseet, Umeå University, Sweden, 19 November 2016
A discussion about art and the deep time of radiation to accompany the Perpetual Uncertainty exhibition. Short presentations by artists and nuclear scholars will take place in the Bildmuseet Flexi-hall, followed by a series of small roundtable discussions bringing together a range of disciplinary perspectives on the nuclear, including artists and people working on the long-term storage of radioactive waste in Europe. The event is inspired by James Acord’s roundtable that he built in his Hanford studio, USA 1999, to bring together environmentalists and people from the nuclear industry to discuss the clean up of the Hanford site.
Introduced by Ele Carpenter and chaired by John O’Brian, with Roundtable facilitators in Bildmuseet and HumLab: Thomson & Craighead; Deep Time Consultation, Jantine Schröder; Remote Sensing Radiation, Susan Schuppli; Nuclear Anthropocene, Peter C van Wyck; Intergenerational responsibility, Johan Swahn; Camera Atomica: Radiation and Photography, John O’Brian; Deep Time Microfiche, Dave Griffiths.
Invited participants will include artists, film-makers, activists, policy makers, professionals engaged in nuclear research and radioactive waste management. In addition members of the public with an interest in nuclear issues, deep time, art and radiation will be able to buy tickets online.
Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust & Genocide, 6 July – 15 September 2016
The Wiener Library’s new exhibition will explore the Nazi labour and extermination camps of Treblinka using the ground-breaking research of Staffordshire University archaeologist Dr Caroline Sturdy Colls and artistic responses to the topic curated by Michael Branthwaite.
For the first time in the UK, this archaeological work will be adapted and displayed along with specially commissioned artworks by Michael Branthwaite, Janine Goldsworthy, Dave Griffiths, Hilary Jack and Jenny Steele.
Through the team’s unique, predominantly non-invasive approach, a more accurate picture of the camps has emerged. At the same time, religious and ethical considerations surrounding their investigation have been respected. This work allowed the old gas chambers, mass graves and a large number of objects to be located. The innovative exhibition includes highlights from the Library’s collections, such as a contemporary map of Treblinka, Nazi documentation and testimony from survivors. It examines the history and architecture of the camps and the forensic archaeological process that helped reveal the camp’s history. The exhibition also explores the application of art as a means to provide access to scientific and historic data.
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.