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Past Exhibition

Material Nuclear Culture

Nick Crowe & Ian Rowlinson / James Acord / Susan Schuppli / Kota Takeuchi / Thomson & Craighead / David Mabb / Erika Kobayashi – Curated by Ele Carpenter

17 June – 13 Aug 2016


Material Nuclear Culture is an exhibition exploring the material traces and cultural legacy of nuclear powered submarines in the UK, within the international discourse of deep time aesthetics and memory.

The exhibition highlights the complexity of archiving the cultural legacy of submarine heritage within a wider discussion of how to comprehend the deep time challenges of radioactive waste storage.

Nick Crowe & Ian Rawlinson’s new film, Courageous, follows the material surfaces of a nuclear submarine. Jon Thomson & Alison Craighead’s, temporary index, is a digital artwork that counts down decay rates of entombed radioactive waste sites around the world. David Mabb’s new sculptural series, A Provisional Memorial to Nuclear Disarmament, draws on the Royal Navy’s love of William Morris fabric and Morris’s revolutionary politics. Susan Schuppli’s audio work Sound of Sand, investigates the poetics of sonar surveillance.

The exhibition will situate these new works alongside works by Japanese artists investigating the deep time memory over generations. Erika Kobayashi’s ‘Half Life’ calendar maps the intergenerational timescales of radiation between Europe and Japan, through the decay rate of Raduim. Artist Kota Takeuchi will present his work Take Stone Monuments Twice revisiting monuments along the Tohoku coast of Japan. The artwork reflects on the tensions between monuments of the past and markers for the future.

This year will mark the end of the Royal Navy fifteen-year public consultation on how to dismantle British nuclear submarines, and where to store the reactor vessels. The Submarine Dismantling Project Advisory Group is the first MOD public consultation with expert advisors, NGO’s and statutory agencies that represent a range of experience and political concerns. The exhibition takes place in the spirit of the advisory group and their commitment to an open and frank discussion about the issues of nuclear dismantling and radioactive waste management.

Material Nuclear Culture exhibition is produced by KARST and Arts Catalyst, curated by Ele Carpenter with support from: Arts Council England; Goldsmiths, University of London; University of Westminster; Sasakawa Foundation; Bildmuseet, Umeå University, Sweden. The research and development of the exhibition was supported by AHRC, npo S-Air and the Daiwa Foundation.

Thanks to: Submarine Dismantling Project Advisory Group, William Morris Gallery, Devonport Heritage Center, I-DAT, Carroll/Fletcher Gallery, Stewart Gough, DDL-Art Services, Alan Jones, Mark Portman and Kyoko Tachibana.

Nuclear Culture is a curatorial research project by Ele Carpenter in partnership with Arts Catalyst and Goldsmiths University of London. Nuclear Culture commissions for this exhibition include: Crowe & Rawlinson, Thomson & Craighead, David Mabb and Susan Schuppli; Kota Takeuchi is Artist in Residence at Arts Catalyst, July 2016.

The Nuclear Culture Source Book features the artists in this exhibition alongside 60 artists’ pages and essays including: Timothy Morton on radiation as a hyperobject, Jahnavi Phalkey on nuclear culture in India, Susan Schuppli on trace evidence, and Peter C. van Wyck on the nuclear anthropocene. Published by Black Dog Publishing, Bildmuseet, and Arts Catalyst, London. Forthcoming September 2016.