NUCLEAR: Art & Radioactivity

Nuclear power is re-emerging as a concern for our times, both as a generator of energy and as part of a defence strategy. Today it seems to stand for the failed utopian promises of modernism and a fresh hope for a carbon-free future. The contradictions that lie at its core have provided a rich source of questioning for artists, scientists, ecologists and activists for many years. The exhibition NUCLEAR: Art & Radioactivity explores these intricacies through two new commissioned works by Chris Oakley and Simon Hollington & Kypros Kyprianou.

The Nightwatchman
Last year, high court judge Jeremy Sullivan caused an apparent setback to the government's nuclear energy ambitions by ruling that public consultation into the creation of a new fleet of nuclear power stations was "misleading", "seriously flawed" and "procedurally unfair". The content presented to the public was so without substance that the judge ruled it would be "wholly insufficient for them to make an intelligent response". Soon after these events, Simon Hollington & Kypros Kyprianou started a residency at The British Atomic Nuclear Group as part of a public perceptions program initiated in response to the 2007 ruling.

Hollington & Kyprianou's work in NUCLEAR: Art & Radioactivity is the outcome from this residency, particularly their work within B.A.N.G's wide-ranging public consultation process into the possibility of siting a nuclear power facility in the heart of London.

Their new installation, 'The Nightwatchman' takes the changing perceptions of the nuclear power industry over its 50 year history into a single immersive narrative environment. Combining the concerns of two different eras (that of the mid-80's and that of the present day), 'The Nightwatchman' blends fact and fiction into a darkly humorous journey from hard-nosed PR to a logical hysteria.

Chris Oakley's new film 'Half-life' looks at the histories of Harwell, birthplace of the UK nuclear industry, and the new development of fusion energy technology at the Culham facility in Oxfordshire. Oakley has gained the cooperation of both these organisations in his research and filming. The film examines nuclear science research through a historical and cultural filter. It includes live action material alongside archive sources and animated sections drawn from scientific diagrams. The work explores the realities and myths surrounding the nuclear sciences.

THE NUCLEAR FORUM: An exploration of nuclear energy in arts and culture
Fri 28 Nov 2008, 10am - 6pm
The Royal Society of Arts (RSA), 8 John Adam Street, WC2N 6EZ

To coincide with the exhibition NUCLEAR: art and radioactivity The Arts Catalyst and SCAN in partnership with RSA Arts & Ecology present THE NUCLEAR FORUM, a one-day event exploring the impact of nuclear power in art and culture. Prominent artists, writers and experts will discuss their work and engagement with the issues around nuclear energy, from Hiroshima through the 50s’ ‘white heat of technology’ and the Cold War nuclear tensions to present day energy debates. The forum takes place on Fri 28 Nov 2008 at the RSA in London. Admission is free, but registration is essential at

Speakers include American ‘nuclear sculptor’ James Acord, the only private individual in the world licensed to own and handle radioactive materials, Gustav Metzger the artist and political activist who developed the concept of Auto-Destructive Art, the chair of CND J Kate Hudson, and Steve Kurtz of art activists Critical Art Ensemble.
NUCLEAR: Art & Radioactivity

Event Title: NUCLEAR: Art & Radioactivity
Postcode: E1 6PG UK
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