An exhibition of contemporary art in the nuclear Anthropocene exploring the complexity of knowledge and the deep time of radiation.
The exhibition brings together twenty-five international artists from across Europe, the USA and Japan, investigating nuclear aesthetics through the material sensing of nuclear sites and experiences.
James Acord, Shuji Akagi, Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway, Erich Berger and Mari Keto, Nick Crowe & Ian Rawlinson, Don’t Follow the Wind, Dave Griffiths, Isao Hashimoto, Erika Kobayashi, David Mabb, Cecile 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.
James Acord was the only private individual in the world licensed to own and handle radioactive materials. He is likely to remain so since the authorities closed the loopholes after he achieved his license. His work was a story of a 20-year performance, a cat and mouse game with the nuclear regulatory authorities, in which he pursued his dream of converting highly radioactive waste into inert metal for use in art. Along the way, he created sculpture and events that probed the history of nuclear engineering, often incorporating radioactive materials. His astonishing story shines light on the secrecy and security with which society cloaks the nuclear industry.
Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway have worked together since the early 90’s, developing large-scale multimedia installations, site-specific works and performances. Using custom-built technologies, data visualisations and video, their recent projects have explored the global politics of uranium mining and landrights in Greenland (Bildmuseet, 2016), the regulatory systems of plant growth applied to city planning (Cambridge University, 2016), live data visualisation of the global financial markets: financial belief systems and the naturalisation of finance (Somerset House, ArtScience Museum Singapore, 2016; Nikolaj Kunsthal, 2004; Tate Britain, 2000) and finding the bluest sky in the world: the changing perceptions of the sky space in the context of climate change (Domaine de Chamarande, 2012; Arts Catalyst, 2011; Tensta Kunsthal, 2010; Nikolaj Kunsthal/COP15, 2009; Gwangju Biennial, 2006). In 2013 Autogena and Portway developed Foghorn Requiem, a requiem for a disappearing sound, performed by Souter Lighthouse foghorn, 3 brass bands and 50 ships on the North Sea.
Nick Crowe and Ian Rawlinson have worked together since 1994 and are drawn to the ways in which power and authority articulate themselves through the grammar and rhetoric that surrounds them. Their works often combine densely layered visual and acoustic allusions to faith, politics, national identity and the environment. They live and work in Manchester and Berlin. Solo exhibitions include MEWO, Kunsthalle Memmingen, 2016; Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, 2015; Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, 2013; Plataforma Revólver, Lisbon, 2012; SALT, Istanbul, 2012 and Institute of Jamais Vu, London, 2012.
David Mabb is a British artist who works with appropriated imagery to rethink the political implications of different aesthetic forms in modern art and design history. Recent work has focussed on the designs of 19th Century English interior designer, writer and socialist William Morris. Mabb’s interest in Morris stems from the social and political connotations of Morris’ work, and the continued relevancy of Morris’ politics. His interpretations or reconfigurations of Morris’ designs consider the relationship between Morris’ own thinking and other forms of cultural production.
Susan Schuppli's research practice examines media artefacts that emerge out of sites of contemporary conflict and state violence to ask questions about the ways in which media are enabling or limiting the possibility of transformative politics. Her current work explores the ways in which toxic ecologies from nuclear accidents and oil spills, to the dark snow of the arctic, are producing an 'extreme image' archive of material wrongs. Projects have been exhibited throughout Canada, the US, Europe and Asia.
Jon Thomson & Alison Craighead (Thomson & Craighead) make artworks that examine the changing socio-political structures of the Information Age. In particular they have been looking at how the digital world is ever more closely connected to the physical world becoming a geographical layer in our collective sensorium. Time is often treated with a sculptor’s mentality, as a pliable quantity that can be moulded and remodelled. Jon is Professor of Fine Art at The Slade School of Fine Art, University College London and Alison is Reader in Contemporary Art at University of Westminster and Lecturer in Fine Art at Goldsmiths University of London. They live and work between London and Ross-shire.
Don’t Follow the Wind is a collective of artists and curators - Chim↑Pom, Kenji Kubota, Eva and Franco Mattes, Jason Waite - initiated by Chim↑Pom. Working with former residents of the Fukushima exclusion zone in Japan and an international group of artists, they have created an exhibition inside the restricted radioactive zone surrounding the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant, that will be inaccessible for an undefined period of time.
Erich Berger is an artist, curator and cultural worker based in Helsinki. His interests lie in information processes and feedback structures, which he investigates through installations, performances and interfaces. Throughout his artist practice he has explored the materiality of information and information and technology as artistic material. His current interest in issues of deep time and hybrid ecology led him to work with geological processes, radiogenic ohenomena and their socio-political implications in the here and now. Mari Keto explores the limits of artificats by combining jewellery materials in her installations and portraits. In Keto's work both the conceptual underpinning and a high degree of craftsmanship merge into an artwork. Keto's work is strongly research-based. She engages with her subject matter from various perspectives in order to define her own. Keto explores the tensions and structures of our contemporary culture by portraying icons and symbols predominantly surrounding us. Deriving from cultural histories and pop culture her work examines the distinctions between value and consumption. Keto's multi-layered works contain intemperate realism mixed with humor and irony.
The exhibition is accompanied by The Nuclear Culture Source Book, edited by Ele Carpenter, and published by Black Dog Publishing in partnership with Bildmuseet and Arts Catalyst, London.