Atomic Heritage final conference

Between 15th and 18th of June, the Atomic Heritage final conference is taking place online. It includes about thirty presenting participants and about thirty non-presenting participants from thirteen different countries – primarily academic scholars but also artists, curators and museum professionals. Among the highlights can be mentioned a public keynote by Prof. Kate Brown on the topic “The Great Chernobyl Acceleration”, a presentation of a new web resource for atomic heritage tourists to Ignalina nuclear power plant and the atomic city of Visaginas in Lithuania, and a roundtable with artists and curators reflecting on the art exhibition “Splitting the Atom” which was initiated in collaboration with the Atomic Heritage project team. As a way to compensate for the lack of more relaxed encounters and exchange of onsite conferences, all participants are invited to share their favorite nuclear object in a “show and tell” session each day. Welcome to have a look at the program. And most welcome to register and zoom in to the public keynote on Tuesday 15th of June at 18.00 CEST, UTC/GMT +2 (Stockholm)! See further information in the separate post on the keynote webinar (below).

The final program as well as the overall conference visuals are designed by Gailė Pranckūnaitė and Mislav Žugaj.

The Great Chernobyl Acceleration: Public webinar with Prof. Kate Brown (MIT)

On Tuesday 15th of June 18:00-19.30 (GMT+2, Stockholm), the Atomic Heritage project hosts a public webinar with Prof. Kate Brown (MIT), speaking on the topic “The Great Chernobyl Acceleration”. Most welcome to attend! The event will be live on Zoom and streamed on YouTube, public and open to everyone, free of charge but with pre-registration. Follow this link to register for the Zoom event.

U.N. websites say that 33 people died from the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe and 6,000 children got cancer. Is that the extent of the damage? Working through newly disclosed Soviet health archives, historian Kate Brown discovered that Soviet doctors reported a public health disaster in the Chernobyl-contaminated territories in the late 1980s. The archives shows a death toll of not 33, but 35,000 and tens of thousands hospitalized after the disaster. What happened to this story? In this keynote address, delivered in relation to the final conference of the research project “Atomic Heritage Goes Critical,” Prof. Brown explores international archives to show how evidence of widespread health problems from Chernobyl exposures disappeared from the scientific consensus.

With the participation of Prof. Melanie Arndt, University of Freiburg, Germany (comments), and Prof. Anna Storm, Linköping University, Sweden (chair).

Organised by the Atomic Heritage research project, Linköping University (Sweden), in partnership with Kingston University London (UK) and Pompeu Fabra University (Spain).

Co-hosted by: Lithuanian National Art Gallery and This Is Tomorrow.

Nuclear Superpowers

In this essay, published by Baltic Worlds, Egle Rindzeviciute interviewed Ele Carpenter, Professor of Interdisciplinary Art and Culture at Umeå University, about her experience of researching and curating nuclear culture and the recent exhibition Splitting the Atom, which Ele co-curated with Virginija Januskeviciute at Contemporary Art Centre in Vilnius, Lithuania. The conversation examined the strong correlation between the experience of imperialism and colonial power, high technology and cultural responsibility as these are revealed in the history of nuclear power, West and East.

The link to the open access article is here.

Ele Carpenter, curator of the exhibition “Splitting the Atom” in Lithuania. PHOTO: Umeå Univeersity

Ele Carpenter, curator of the exhibition “Splitting the Atom” in Lithuania. PHOTO: Umeå University

Stalinism, reparations and nuclear cultural heritage

Dr Egle Rindzeviciute gave an invited talk at a seminar “USSR to Post-Soviet Russia: Reparations or Repression for Stalin’s Victims?,” sponsored by the IES of Einaudi Center for International Studies at Cornell University. It is organised as part of the IES Migration Series for its AY 2020-21 theme Repair and Reparations. This panel explored proposals in the early post-Soviet period to honor the memory of, and perhaps provide reparations to, the victims of Stalinist repression. They were replaced by official government efforts to rehabilitate Stalin’s reputation and even rewrite the history of World War II. Organizations such as Memorial, formed to maintain the memory of Stalin’s crimes, have been declared “foreign agents” and obliged to curb their activities. Dr Rindzeviciute discussed the ways in which nuclear cultural heritage could serve as part of post-Soviet reparations programme.

School children drew their local post-nuclear future, Fessenheim, France

In December 2020 and January 2021, a group of school children was invited to reflect on the issues of energy transition and the decommissioning of the nuclear power plant of their town, Fessenheim. The two-days event “Transition énergétique: défis citoyens” was organized by the interest organization “La Nef des sciences” in collaboration with the artist Laurence Mellinger, the Kunsthalle of Mulhouse with Elise Alloin and Emma Werler, and the researcher Téva Meyer from the CRESAT at the University of Haute-Alsace. Researcher Florence Fröhlig from the Atomic Heritage team participated online. On December 7, after some sensibilization activities, the pupils were invited to draw the nuclear power plant and imagine what the site would look like when the nuclear power plant has been dismantled. On January 26, the pupils and the artists and researchers discussed the imagined local post-nuclear futures as they took shape in the children’s drawings, and in a next step the drawings will be exposed in the Secondary School of Fessenheim.

Photo credits: La Nef des sciences