The Atomic Photographers Guild are exhibiting Behind the Atom Curtain: Life and Death in the Nuclear Age, as part of Divergence, Photographs from Elsewhere; A monumental showcase of photography by over sixty photographers from fifteen countries at the historic Midland Railway Workshops site in Perth, Western Australia, from the 14th of March to the 15th of April, as part of the FotoFreo festival.
Founded by photographer Robert Del Tredici in 1987, the Atomic Photographers Guild is an international grass-roots collective of photographers dedicated to making visible all aspects of the nuclear age.
Behind the Atom Curtain: Life and Death in the Nuclear Age features the work of 24 members of the Atomic Photographers Guild, including Berlyn Brixner and Yoshito Matsushige, Guild elders — Brixner having photographed the first atomic explosion in the Alamogordo Desert; and Matsushige, the sole photographer in Hiroshima the day the A-bomb exploded overhead; Robert Del Tredici (the US Nuclear Weapons Complex, Canadian uranium), Kenji Higuchi (Japanese Nuclear Power), Carole Gallagher (Atomic Veterans & Utah & Nevada Downwinders), Harris Fogel (the Trinity Site), Gunter Zint (mass demonstrations against German nuclear installations), Yuri Kuidin (opposition to Soviet nuclear tests), Dan Budnik (uranium mining in the American Southwest), Patrick Nagatani (nuclear realities in the American Southwest ), James Lerager (Atomic Veterans, Chernobyl), Peter Goin (nuclear landscapes), Paul Shambroom (nuclear weapons post-Cold War), James Crnkovich (US nuclear pop culture), Blake Fitzpatrick (the Port Hope uranium refinery in Ontario), Nancy Floyd (nuclear power workers in California), John Hooton (missile silos in North Dakota), Igor Kostin, David McMillan, and Vaclav Vasku (Chernobyl), Barbara Norfleet (nuclear landscapes), Jessie Boylan (nuclear tests in Australia), and elin o’Hara slavick (Hiroshima).
This exhibit first opened at the Sol Mednick Gallery at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia last fall. Curated by Robert Del Tredici and Harris Fogel, it presented a variety of aesthetic, cultural, scientific, and conceptual responses to the challenge of the nuclear age. In November of 2011 the show opened in Vienna in the Sala Terena Gallery at the University of Applied Arts. This is its third venue, co-curated by Guild member Jessie Boylan of Melbourne, Australia.
Each photographer focuses on different facets of the nuclear age. From portraits of the founders of the nuclear era to contemporary nuclear scientists, from to the partial meltdown at Three Mile Island to the full meltdown at Chernobyl and the tattered social fabric around Fukushima, from survivors of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and above-ground atomic tests to all the H-bomb factories of the US, Behind the Atom Curtain lifts the veil on nuclear landscapes and cultures throughout America, Europe, Russia, and Japan.
It addresses history’s deadliest nuclear accident, still unfolding, in Fukushima, by featuring the work of Kenji Higuchi of Tokyo. Higuchi has for forty years been the preeminent photographer of Japan’s nuclear workers. Guild members have in common the aim to capture the heft, grit and impact of the nuclear age — an age that has altered the course of history but exists so covertly that most people think of the Bomb as an abstraction. The Guild releases its images in books, on gallery walls, and over the web so others can piece together the fragments of what may well prove to be our darkest, most enduring legacy.