Day 3

Community and Visual Arts:
Commemorating nuclear fear

Day 3 of a five-day workshop into the problem of nuclear harm sponsored by the 2016 O’Donnell Endowed Chair in Global Studies.

Inside the Onkalo permanent nuclear waste repository in Finland as documented in the “For 100 years” Nuclear Deferral series. October 2015.Image by N.A.J. Taylor
12:00-17:00 (open to the public)
Monday, September 26, 2016
Maxey Museum for Man and Nature, Whitman College, Walla Walla, WA

To commemorate the U.N. International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, three short-films will be screened on-demand that examine the continued pain, suffering and vulnerability of atomic survivor communities in Australia.

A selection of photographic and ceramic works by N.A.J. Taylor will be displayed alongside the screenings. The exhibition, Nuclear Deferral, will remain open from Monday, September 26, 2016, through Wednesday, September 28, 2016, from 12:00-17:00.

Film screening

Collisions (2016) [18 minutes] employs virtual reality technology to set up an encounter between the viewer and Nyarri Morgan, of the Martu tribe from remote central Australia. Morgan’s first encounter with Western culture was not until the British conducted their nuclear tests in the remote Western Australian Pilbara desert in the 1950s.

10 Minutes to Midnight (2015) [24 minutes] and Ngurini (Searching) (2015) [20 minutes] are companion short films that explore the aftermath of Britain’s atomic testing at Maralinga in South Australia. 10 Minutes to Midnight integrates original digital artwork, video media, dynamic sound design, and archival footage as a means of evaluating British nuclear colonialism. Ngurini (Searching) is a culmination of a community-based arts project with Pitjantjatjara Anangu from Yalata and Oak Valley, who were relocated from traditional lands and the Ooldea Mission from 1952 when Britain commenced its nuclear testing program in South Australia.

A short documentary about the making of Lynette Wallworth’s Collisions virtual reality film that was released in 2015.Image supplied

Nuclear Deferral is an exhibition of N.A.J. Taylor’s photographic images from inside the world’s first nuclear waste repository in remote Finland, which have been variously printed on archival paper and stoneware ceramic. The effect of the works calls into question the temporal enormity of nuclear harms, which routinely exceed 100,000 years. For instance, the Navajo think in terms of seven generations. Many indigenous Australian cultures, in terms of 100 generations. Yet, the problem of nuclear harm persists for 30,000 generations.

A thought experiment

Ask yourselves, if you were tasked with commemorating nuclear fear, what would you do? What (if anything) do you fear? Where, how, and why would you commemorate it? Which materials or voices would you call upon, and which would you leave out? Then ask: will you organise such an event next year?
Peter Galison and Robb Moss, Containment, Galison and Moss Production, 2015. [1 hour 21 minutes]

Isco Hashimoto (dir.), ‘1945-1998‘, Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation, YouTube, July 6, 2012. [14 minutes]

Michael Madsen (2010) (dir.), Into Eternity: A Film for the Future, Films Transit International, 2010. [1 hour 15 minutes]

Nevil Shute, On the Beach, Ballantine Books, New York: NY, 1957. 

Gregory K. Young, Australian Atomic Confessions, New South Wales Film & Television Office, 2005. [50 minutes]

The 2016 Nuclear Humanities intensive workshop was designed and delivered by N.A.J. Taylor, on the invitation of Shampa Biswas, Chair of the Politics Department and Paul Garrett Professor of Political Science at Whitman College. It was sponsored by an O’Donnell Endowed Chair in Global Studies grant.