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Nuclear Fallout: The Bomb in Three Archives with Kei Ito and Migiwa Orimo

September 20, 2018December 7, 2018

In this divided era, where world powers openly threaten to unleash enormous nuclear arsenals, Nuclear Fallout: The Bomb in Three Archives excavates the collective memory of the effects and aftermath of nuclear war. This interdisciplinary collaboration re-examines archival slides, photographs, 16mm films, objects, and documents from three markedly different archives: the U.S. National Archives military training films, multimedia materials from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Memorial Collection of the Wilmington College Peace Resource Center, and the ideologically sanitized exhibits of the National Museum of the United States Air Force, which spotlight Bocks Car—the B-29 bomber that dropped the plutonium Fat Man bomb on Nagasaki, Japan. Embedded in the project are two renowned Japanese-American artists Kei Ito and Migiwa Orimo, working within the three archives to create installations responding to the conceptual “scotomas,” gaps, blurrings, and erasures that exist in our faded recollections of these events in history. Through this collaboration, Nuclear Fallout asks its audiences to critically consider the way war is curated in our cultural telling—asking who creates the narrative, whose stories are missing, and who is no longer alive to tell it.

Nuclear Fallout is organized by Jennifer Wenker, curator and creative director of the Herndon Gallery at Antioch College; Tanya Maus (Ph.D., Japanese History), director of the Peace Resource Center; Migiwa Orimo, four-time recipient of the OAC Individual Excellence Award; Charles Fairbanks, Guggenheim fellow, award-winning filmmaker, and Assistant Professor of Media Art at Antioch College; and the students critically engaged in collaboration with these academic mentors.

Also on view: Nuclear Fallout – This is Your Life
A critical collaborative archival research project by six students and their professor at Antioch College, Nuclear Fallout uses an episode from the 1950s American TV show This is Your Life as a prism through which we can better understand the Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In that show, host Ralph Edwards leads Hiroshima survivor Kiyoshi Tanimoto through key incidents in his life, punctuated most spectacularly by an encounter with the pilot of the Enola Gay mission that dropped the bomb. While the TV show is a fascinating––albeit unsettling––artifact on its own, even more telling is what the show doesn’t say: how it manipulates the history of nuclear war, tokenizes victims, and ritualizes generosity to absolve Americans of their guilty feelings. Nuclear Fallout: This is Your Life draws on declassified military documents from the Peace Resource Center and Wilmington College and The National Archives in College Park, Maryland, to revise and annotate the history represented in––and elided by––the most popular show to ever focus on the victims of our atomic bombs.
Organized by Antioch College students: David Blakeslee, Tyler Clapsaddle, Santiago Gariepy, Nadia Mulhall, Charlotte Norman, and Mari Smith, with their professor Charles Fairbanks. They were supported in this venture by Antioch College; Dr. Tanya Maus, Director of the Peace Resource Center; and Jennifer Wenker, the Creative Director of the Herndon Gallery.
  • Migiwa Orimo, Rosy Invisible (detail), 2018. Multimedia installation with cabinets. Courtesy of the artist

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