APG News

Yoshito Matsushige — an interview with Robert Del Tredici

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Matsushige-Portrait

Introduction


The dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima has arrived at the age of 75. This bomb was so powerful its first use was justified as demonstrating that this weapon meant, at last, the end of war itself. But the bomb, without missing a beat, spawned instead a Cold War that, after 2 billion, 365 million, 200 thousand seconds of paranoid, hyper-active nuclear peace, has, according the The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, brought us to within one hundred seconds of a war that promises to wipe the human race clean off the face of the Earth.

It is time to touch base with some of the hard-won wisdom from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In Hiroshima we meet Yoshito Matsushige, a photographer who took the only known pictures on August 6 after the A-bomb exploded overhead. He had two rolls of film but could not bear to take more than five shots that day. He describes the anguish he went through taking those few historic images.

In Nagasaki we meet Tsue Hayashi, whose 15-year old daughter Kyoko had gone to school early on August 9 and did not come home. Tsue spent 21 days searching the ruins for Kayoko. She tells us, “ I wondered, What on earth is the wisdom of mankind? Whatever it was, I hated it. Who invented this bomb? If they had such great brains, why couldn’t they also invent a way to help the victims recover? I think mankind opened the lid to the box that God said not to open in the Bible. I hope mankind never uses the A-bomb again.”

— Robert Del Tredici

Yoshito Matsushige, Hiroshima, Japan, September 5, 1984

At the time of the bombing I was a photographer working for the Chugoku Shimbun newspaper in Hiroshima. I was also an official reporter for the army. I lived 2.7 kilometers from the hypo-center. Part of my house was a barbershop. My wife was cutting hair and running the barbershop. I was hit by the A-bomb there. At around midnight, early August 6, an air raid sounded. I got on my bicycle and went to army headquarters. That morning at seven I returned home, took breakfast, read the newspaper, and was getting ready to go to work when the A-bomb was dropped.

What happened? What did you see from your house?

At first I saw something shining and sparkling—it was a kind of twinkling light, like you see from a sparkling electric live wire. The next instant there was this huge white flash, like a giant magnesium flash-bulb. I couldn’t see anything anymore after that. Then I heard a blast and when the blast hit, my body jumped in the air about one meter and I was thrown against the wall. My wife cried, “Bombing! ” and ran to me. I grabbed her hand and we both got out of the house. We crossed the streetcar tracks and went out into the field across the street. I thought the bomb had landed right on my house. ••I went into the field holding my wife’s hand, but I couldn’t see her face because of the blast and the uranium dust. Every-where there was dust; it made a grayish darkness over everything. But I could feel the warmth of my wife’s hand, and it was this that made me realize she was still alive and also that I was still alive.

What time was it?

It must have been about 8:40 A.M. A few minutes later the grayish darkness began to go up into the sky, and I thought, I am a newspaper photographer and a reporter for the army, so I have an obligation to make sure where the bomb was dropped. It was time to go to work. When I got back to my house it was in ruins. I pulled my army uniform and my camera out from under a heap of plaster and left home at nine. I walked east down the streetcar tracks to the Miyuki-bashi Bridge. I was heading for the center of town.

Did you see anything like a mushroom cloud in the sky overhead?

No. I was just looking directly in front of me, straight ahead. But I don’t think I could have seen it anyway, since I was right underneath it. When I got to the Takano-bashi Bridge, the central part of the city was surrounded in flames. I knew then that I’d never get into that area.

Were you thinking at all about the kind of bomb that had caused such destruction?

I guessed it had not been an ordinary bomb. At army headquarters I would sometimes hear secret information, and one time a rumor was going around that there existed bombs the size of matchboxes which could destroy large buildings. I thought this bomb must have been not exactly the same, but something like that. Military people had also been saying that the United States had invented some kind of very special small-sized bomb.

I’ m surprised to hear that! I thought the atomic bomb had been a very closely kept secret.

Well, ordinary Japanese people knew nothing of this. But army headquarters was talking about it. If any of us in the military spoke out about such secret information, the police would have come and arrested
us.

Where did you go when you saw the fire?

When I saw the fire I knew I had to go back and try another route if I was going to reach my office or army headquarters. That fire on August 6 was no ordinary fire; it was a fire maelstrom. And it was moving fast up the street, coming right for me. So I was forced back to the Miyuki-bashi Bridge. When I got there I saw a crowd of people. Most of them were burned. It was at this time that I remembered, I was a professional photographer, that this was a great disaster, and that I should try to photograph it and get the pictures to the newspaper or to army headquarters.

What kind of a camera were you carrying, and how much film did you have?

I had a small 6 x 6 Mamiya viewfinder camera and two rolls of black-and-white film, 100 ASA, twelve exposures per roll. So I had enough film for twenty-four pictures. That was a lot in those days. Ordinary people had no film at all. It was because I was an army reporter that I had those two rolls. But I ended up taking only five photographs that day.

Is this photograph on the Miyuki-bashi Bridge your first photograph that day?

Yes. I took it at a little after eleven A.M. This bridge was 2.2 kilometers from the hypocenter.

 West end of Miyuki Bridge (Matsushige 2)

Miyuki Bridge, Hiroshima, roughly 2,300 meters from the hypocenter, photograph by Yoshito Matsushige, approximately 11 am, August 6, 1945, April 2013, Chromogenic print, 9 x 12 inch.

What is that building?

That’s a police station, the Senda-cho Station House. In front of it they had set up a temporary medical treatment center for injured persons. Two officers are putting calking oil on bums. The oil came from the army food-storage warehouse. Injured people were everywhere. Both sidewalks of the bridge were crowded with dead and suffering victims. When I saw them I realized I had to take a picture, and I tried to push the shutter, but I couldn’t. It was so terrible. These people were pathetic. I had to wait. Most of the people were students, children.

I always thought they were old people in this photograph.

No, these are mainly students from the Hiroshima Girls’ Commercial High School and from the Hiroshima Prefecture Daiichi Middle School. They had been mobilized to make a fire break in case of a bombing raid.

Why did you take only five photographs on that day?

Before I became a professional camera-man I had been just an ordinary person. So when I was faced with a terrible scene like this, I found it difficult to push the shutter. I was standing on the Kyuld-bashi Bridge for about twenty minutes before I could do it. Finally I thought, I am a professional cameraman so I have to take pictures. Then I managed to push the shutter.

Soon after, I took a second picture, but I couldn’t push the shutter a second time without crying, because it was a really terrible scene. It was just like something out of hell, and I didn’t feel like taking many pictures. I was just dumbfounded.

West end of Miyuki Bridge (Matsushige 2)This photograph was taken moving in closer to the people after taking the photograph on the left.From in front of the police box, both sides on Miyuki Bridge were full of dead and injured people. From that evening, the injured were taken by truck to Ujina and Ninoshima Island.Just after 11 a.m.

West end of Miyuki Bridge (Matsushige 2)This photograph was taken moving in closer to the people after taking the photograph on the left.From in front of the police box, both sides on Miyuki Bridge were full of dead and injured people. From that evening, the injured were taken by truck to Ujina and Ninoshima Island.Just after 11 a.m.

My viewfinder was fogged because of my tears. I understand why you ask me why I did not take more pictures, but in reality it was very difficult. When I set my camera at somebody who was asking for help I could not really push the shutter.

Does that mean several times you thought of taking a picture and then decided not to do it?

Yes—there was one time. It happened when I left the Miyuki-bashi Bridge at around two, when the flames were more subdued. I went to my newspaper office down-town. The way was very` difficult. I could find no street. Everything was gutted, a few fires were still burning here and there, roof tiles were everywhere. It was hard not to walk on the dead bodies. I tried not to, but I had to. On the way I passed Hiroshima University. There is a swimming pool at the university. The previous day it had been full of water, but when I passed by in the afternoon there was almost none. It must have evaporated because of the fire. All that was left was a little water in the bottom of the pool, and people had jumped in to get to the water, but it must have been almost boiling, and the people couldn’t get back out of the pool, so they died in the hot water. There were seven or eight people like boiled fish at the bottom of this pool.

Was this a scene you tried to take a picture of?

It was such a terrible situation I didn’t think of my camera at all. I felt I was going. crazy. So I just kept trying to get to the newspaper company. When I finally got there I tried to enter the building but I walked only a few steps into it. I couldn’t go in farther because of the heat. When I couldn’t get into my building I walked back into the street. Several dead bodies were lying in front of the building. I went to the corner, and there was a street-car. I went up to it and looked inside. It was jammed with people. They were all in normal positions, holding onto streetcar straps, sitting down or standing still, just the way they would have been before the bomb went off. Except that all of them were leaning in the same direction—away from the center of the blast. And they were all burned black, a reddish black, and they were stiff. It was about twenty people in all. They had all died instantly. I felt that they had their eyes open even though they were all burned. This was the scene I tried to take a picture of. I put one foot up on the street-car and looked into it. I put my finger on the shutter for one or two minutes, but I could not push it. I refrained from taking the picture. It was too terrible to take a picture of. This was the only scene I was going to take a picture of but did not.

How close was this to the center of the bomb?

This was very close—about 300 meters from the hypocenter.

Where did you go after that?

I went back to my house, and there I took the third and fourth photographs. My house was 2.7 kilometers south-southeast from the hypocenter. The fire did not reach this part of the city, but the damage from the blast was terrible. I got home at around two P.M.

The third picture is of the barbershop chairs. That is my wife in the background. She is looking after our valuables.

Yoshiito Matsushige

Barber shop damaged by the bomb blast (Matsushige 3)In the area approximately 2,600m from the hypocenter where Matsushige’s home was located, his wife Sumie was running their barber shop. Although this area escaped the flames, the damage wreaked by the blast was devastating. Sumie was going through their valuables.Around 2:00 p.m. Modori-machi

Barber shop damaged by the bomb blast (Matsushige 3)In the area approximately 2,600m from the hypocenter where Matsushige’s home was located, his wife Sumie was running their barber shop. Although this area escaped the flames, the damage wreaked by the blast was devastating. Sumie was going through their valuables.Around 2:00 p.m. Modori-machi

West Fire Station, Minami Branch (Matsushige 4)Opposite Matsushige’s house was the wooden, three-floor West Fire Station, Minami Branch. This building collapsed in the bomb blast, and the firemen at work in the watchtower also fell as the building collapsed, and 4-5 firemen who were on the second floor were trapped under the collapsed building.Around 2:00 p.m. Modori-machi

The fourth picture is the view out our barbershop window, with the streetcar tracks and a man walking by. The destroyed building is the Kaimi branch of the Nishi Fire Station. It was a three-story wooden building with a watchtower. The blast from the bomb made the building collapse. One fireman was in the watch-tower when it collapsed. Fire trucks and several firemen on the first floor were buried. One of them was seriously wounded and several were injured. Several injured firemen were treated in my house for about one week, beginning that evening. My wife nursed them. Later in the afternoon I went back to the area of the Miyuki-bashi Bridge, where I took my final photograph, the one of the bandaged soldier writing at a table.

Police officer filling in a disaster certificateOfficer Fujita from Ujina Police Station issued disaster certificates for victims of the bombing even though he was injured himself. People who had a disaster certificate could receive emergency relief food and daily commodities.Just after 4 p.m. (or 5 p.m.) Minami-machi 3-chome, at the corner of the Government Monopoly Bureau

Police officer filling in a disaster certificateOfficer Fujita from Ujina Police Station issued disaster certificates for victims of the bombing even though he was injured himself. People who had a disaster certificate could receive emergency relief food and daily commodities.Just after 4 p.m. (or 5 p.m.) Minami-machi 3-chome, at the corner of the Government Monopoly Bureau

Police officer filling in a disaster certificateOfficer Fujita from Ujina Police Station issued disaster certificates for victims of the bombing even though he was injured himself. People who had a disaster certificate could receive emergency relief food and daily commodities.Just after 4 p.m. (or 5 p.m.) Minami-machi 3-chome, at the corner of the Government Monopoly Bureau

That was about four in the afternoon, near the other end of the bridge, on the curve of the kilk trolley-car tracks on the Ujina line.

Who is the soldier? What is he doing?

He is a policeman. He is writing a certificate for people who were hit by the disaster. With a certificate a person could be given a little bread.

Why did you take a picture of this activity?

I don’t know. I didn’t think, “This is important.”

And this was your last picture?

In the evening I was in the vicinity of the present A-bomb hospital and there was a fire. I took two or three pictures of that, but the film at that time was not as sensitive as it is today and none of them came out. I threw the negatives away. If only I knew that those pictures would turn out to be so valuable I might have preserved them. But I had no way of knowing this at the time. I think if the situation had been different, and it had, been Japan that had dropped the atomic bomb on America and  I went to the United States to take pictures of the effects of the bomb, then I might have taken lots more pictures. But here in Hiroshima those who were dying were all my fellow countrymen, my fellow Hiroshimans, and I had never fought with them, so I couldn’t take pictures of so many terrible scenes. You know, if the situation today were different, if the world were not so full of nuclear weapons, these photographs would have been forgotten, or remembered only as relics from the past. But the situation today makes these pictures very important. These views are very meaningful because they are not just about something that happened a long time ago. There should never be war in which nuclear weapons are used. So I hope that you listen to as many people as possible in Hiroshima, and that you make as many people as possible know how terrible the A-bomb is. That is my wish.

Interview translated by Mieko Yamashita.

Tsue Hayashi – an interview with Robert Del Tredici

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Tsue-Hayashi-of-Nagasaki-1920

Introduction


The dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima has arrived at the age of 75. This bomb was so powerful its first use was justified as demonstrating that this weapon meant, at last, the end of war itself. But the bomb, without missing a beat, spawned instead a Cold War that, after 2 billion, 365 million, 200 thousand seconds of paranoid, hyper-active nuclear peace, has, according the The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, brought us to within one hundred seconds of a war that promises to wipe the human race clean off the face of the Earth.

It is time to touch base with some of the hard-won wisdom from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In Hiroshima we meet Yoshito Matsushige, a photographer who took the only known pictures on August 6 after the A-bomb exploded overhead. He had two rolls of film but could not bear to take more than five shots that day. He describes the anguish he went through taking those few historic images.

In Nagasaki we meet Tsue Hayashi, whose 15-year old daughter Kyoko had gone to school early on August 9 and did not come home. Tsue spent 21 days searching the ruins for Kayoko. She tells us, “ I wondered, What on earth is the wisdom of mankind? Whatever it was, I hated it. Who invented this bomb? If they had such great brains, why couldn’t they also invent a way to help the victims recover? I think mankind opened the lid to the box that God said not to open in the Bible. I hope mankind never uses the A-bomb again.”

— Robert Del Tredici

Tsue Hayashi, Sakurababa, Nagasaki, Japan, August 14, 1985

Mrs. Hayashi, age 84, is the mother of Kayoko, who at age 15 was lost in the explosion of the Nagasaki bomb. The story of Tsue Hayashi’s search for her daughter has become a legend in Nagasaki. “The morning after the bomb, and every day after that, from early morning until evening, I walked all over the city looking for Kayoko. I saw many people suffering and dying. It was very sad. I felt deeply the severe power of the A-bomb. I cannot remember seeing a single other person walking.”

Tsue Hayashi’s only child was named Kayoko. Iri August 1945, Kayoko was fifteen years old. Like many her age, she had been mobilized for the war effort. She worked at the Shiroyama Primary School, which had been converted into a torpedo-assembly plant. The school was located in Nagasaki’s Urakami district, 3.5 kilometers from her home.

The story of Kayoko’s cherry trees is well known in Nagasaki, but outside Nagasaki not many people have heard of it. . . .
That is right. It is not known. I never meant it to be famous. I’d prefer people to leave Kayoko’s cherry trees alone. The story came from my desire to pray for Kayoko’s spirit and for everyone who died in the bomb.

How does it begin?

On the morning of August 9, I gave Kayoko her lunch box, and she went out of the house to go to work at the Shiroyama Primary School. A few minutes later she came back and put her lunch box down. I asked her, “What is wrong?” She said, “I don’t feel like going to work today.” This was unusual. Kayoko was a very serious girl. She always worked hard. This was the first time she had said something like this. I wanted to tell her, “Please take a day off,”  but I didn’t. Her birthday was coming in two days, and I wanted her to take a day off then. If she took a day off now that would make two days in one week. So I told her to go to work, and in two days she would have a holiday. She picked up her lunch box and went to work. I am the one who sent her away. I regret and regret and regret this.

Later that morning the bomb fell. At first I did not realize it was an atomic bomb. I just noticed something bright and flashing, like sparks from a trolley car, and I heard thunder. I ran out of the house without my shoes on and saw the sky over Urakami full of black smoke. It was unusual. My first thought was to get Kayoko. I started making my way toward Urakami, but the chief of my block saw me and called out, “Where are you going?” I told him, “Kayoko is in Urakami!” He grabbed me and said, “You’ll die if you go there!” I stood there for a long time. The smoke began to turn into flames. I went home. People with burns on their faces and backs started going past my house. Some had skin hanging down like rags. I asked them, “How is Urakami?” and, “Have you seen Kayoko? She was working at the Shiroyama Primary School.” They told me that a big bomb had been dropped and that Urakami had been destroyed.

The whole night I waited for Kayoko on the front porch. I kept praying for her to be alive. The morning after the bomb, and every day after that, from early morning until evening, I walked all over the city looking for Kayoko. I saw many people suffering and dying. It was very sad. I felt deeply the severe power of the A-bomb. I cannot remember seeing a single other person walking. Maybe that is because of the rumor that you will die sooner if you go into Urakami. There were no trees there, no grass, no houses, only a lot of broken roof tiles. And many corpses. I thought, “I’ve heard of hell. It must be like this.” Some of the people were still dying. When I walked past them they would say, “Give me water, please. Please help me.” I could only say, “I’m sorry. I have no water. I can’t help you. Forgive me. I have to look for my child.”

When I was looking for my child I kept thinking about the wisdom of mankind. I wondered, “What on earth is this wisdom of mankind?” Whatever it was, I hated it. It wasn’t the bad people who were killed. The A-bomb killed everybody. Even condemned criminals have a better death than the people I saw suffering. I couldn’t help them at all, I had to walk right through them. My feet were hurt and bleeding, but I kept thinking stubbornly about the wisdom of mankind. Who invented this bomb? If they had such great brains, why couldn’t they also invent a way to help the victims recover? I knew there would be no answer to my questions. I think mankind opened the lid of the box that God said not to open in the Bible. I hope mankind never uses the A-bomb again.

Day after day, for twenty-one days, I wandered, seeking my Kayoko. It was the middle of summer and the days were very hot. One time I was looking for Kayoko in the mountains and I saw a young woman with a cotton shawl over her head, nursing her baby. I was frightened and wondered if she was a real human being. I went closer. I found out she was not a person in this world anymore. It was a corpse. When I saw that, I thought, “How miserable!” Maybe only women will understand the feeling of nursing a baby. It is a very pure and innocent time. It is like heaven in this world. The A-bomb killed this woman in that pure and innocent moment. –

At first I was looking for a live child, but about-halfway through my search I started looking for her among the corpses. But the corpses were so burned you could recognize only the shape of the skull. I decided to look at the corpses’ teeth. My child had a row of teeth that was different from others’. Her front bottom teeth came out a little farther than usual. She was also starting treatment on a back tooth. So I opened the mouths of corpses to look at their teeth. Some of the corpses’ mouths were closed very tightly. I had to pry them open.

One day I found a corpse whose teeth looked like my child’s. I wasn’t sure, though, because Kayoko’s back tooth had not received a real filling yet, but the corpse whose teeth were like Kayoko’s looked like it had a filling. Still I thought, “It’s Kayoko,” and I brought the remains back home. I held a funeral ceremony with my neighbors.

When I finished the funeral, my heart would not become calm. I had a dream at that time. In the dream I saw Kayoko wandering in the ruins. That made me think, “Kayoko is still waiting for me out there. Maybe she is even still alive, just barely breathing, and can’t call out.” So I kept looking for my child every day, even after the funeral.

At last I found my real child. It finally happened twenty-one days after the bomb exploded. I found her on the top floor of the Shiroyama Primary School. This was the third time I had gone up there to look for her. To get to the third floor, I had to crawl, because the stairway had been destroyed.

How did you know it was the real Kayoko this time?

During the war I made an air-raid hood for Kayoko out of my cotton kimono. I heard cotton did not burn easily. I sewed a small notebook into the top part of the hood. In the notebook I had written my last will and testament. I told Kayoko: If I die, you should live in such-and-such a way. I have left your belongings under my parents’ place in the country. When the war is over, get them. Your home’s economical condition is such-and-such. Learn this condition and live according to it. You should never commit suicide, even if I die and you become very sad. Keep living firmly. You were born with the ability to survive.

When I went upstairs this time at the Shiroyama Primary School, I noticed a piece of that air-raid hood. I said, “What’s that?” and ran over to it. There I found the upper part of my child’s body. It was half burned. There was no lower part remaining. Everything else on the third floor had been burned completely. Other people’s bones were burned and had become like pieces of small gravel. But my child’s bones remained intact, even though there was no meat on them. And the shape of my child’s open mouth formed an “ah” sound, as if she was saying “Ka-a-a-a-a. When I saw that, I thought my child must have been calling “0-ka-cha-ma” [“Mommy”] before she died.

Was the notebook still in the cotton hood?

Yes, it hadn’t been burned. I was very sad to pick up my last will and testament again in this place. I wrapped up my child’s bones in cloth. To get down to the ground floor I had to slide down on my bottom, pulling the cloth bundle behind me. On the ground, I cremated my child, When I got home I came down with a very high fever, and I had to stay in bed.
What happened with the remains of the other child?

I buried her in the same grave as Kayoko’s. So the unknown girl was enshrined as one of my family’s deceased. When the Festival of the Dead comes I have the priest pray for the unknown girl, too. Do you know what Ta-mu-ke is? It means to offer something to dead people, like flowers or cookies. I still offer cooked rice and tea every day.

For Kayoko?

Yes, but I saw many dead people everywhere. I walked through them, crying. When the war was over, I eagerly wanted to make some kind of offering. I thought about it over and over. I decided I’d like to plant cherry trees to go around the school. I wanted to do this for their souls.

For the souls of .. .

For the souls of everyone. If it were only for Kayoko I wouldn’t have dared to ask for permission to plant the trees. Thousands of people died—there were so many corpses it was hard not to step on them. I wanted to offer something to all those people. The cherry trees were for everybody. Do you understand?

The Shiroyama teachers said, “All right, you may plant cherry trees.” But there were no young cherry trees in Nagasaki at that time. A gardener told me, “There’s not even food here, not to mention young cherry trees!” I asked the gardener and his son to go around the bay to Kurume to buy them. They planted the cherry trees ,round the school. Those trees were beautiful when they bloomed.
Thank you for telling your story. I learned today that Kayoko’s cherry trees were not only for Kayoko, but for every¬one.

Do you know something? I never named them “Kayoko’s Cherry Trees.” The school named them that. I would have called them just something like “Ta-mu-ke no sakura” [“Cherry Tree Offering for the Dead”]. I didn’t build the monument either. The school put it in. This whole thing has become more and more famous, and I am somewhat embarrassed by it.

Interview translated by Setsumi Del Tredici.

Mary Kavanagh: Trinity 3

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Trinity 3Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery
February 13, 2020 – May 10, 2020

Curated by Crystal Mowry

Trinity Site, New Mexico, marks the historically significant testing of the world’s first atomic bomb on 16 July 1945, three weeks prior to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. Under the auspices of the Manhattan Project, the development and use of atomic weapons presented new orders of destructive capability. Today the area surrounding the original test site is named the White Sands Missile Range and remains active in the steady advancement of increasingly sophisticated military technologies. Two days each year, the WSMR Public Affairs Office hosts an Open House, during which thousands of visitors come to experience the place where the atomic age began.

Since her first visit in 2012, Mary Kavanagh has developed a forensic eye for the individual and collective histories shaped by the events associated with the test site. In the making of Trinity 3, Kavanagh conducted hundreds of on-site interviews with visitors making the pilgrimage, often for complex reasons. For some of her subjects, the site is consecrated. For others, it awakens anxiety about the militarization of science and fears that nuclear technologies may be exploited by reckless leaders. By interspersing archival footage with narratives of impact, Kavanagh creates a filmic montage that is in turn jarring, poetic and inscrutable.

A forthcoming catalogue with essays by Peter C. van Wyck and Jayne Wilkinson will be produced in partnership with the Southern Alberta Art Gallery and the Founders’ Gallery at the University of Calgary.

KWAG Mary Kavanagh Artist’s Talk
https://kwag.ca/civicrm/event/info%3Fid%3D329%26reset%3D1
KWAG Mary Kavanagh Exhibition
https://kwag.ca/content/mary-kavanagh-trinity-3
Canadian Art | Trinity 3
https://canadianart.ca/interviews/trinity-3/

Daughters of Uranium, an exhibition by Mary Kavanagh

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The Founders’ Gallery
The Military Museums, University of Calgary

September 27, 2019 – January 26, 2020

Daughters of Uranium, an exhibition by Mary Kavanagh

On July 16, 1945, when the United States detonated the world’s first atomic bomb, the atmospheric radiation released by this event marked the beginning of the what is now called the Nuclear Anthropocene.

In this exhibition, Mary Kavanagh engages different modes of representation, structuring the Nuclear as a totalizing concept rather than as a singular event or period. She weaves a complex narrative that, as Jayne Wilkinson writes, “encompasses not only the desert site of the first atomic explosion but the post-war suburbs that expanded rapidly in its shadows; not only the laboratories that buzzed with thrilling scientific discovery, but the homes where the cost of war was actualized in the slow decay of uranium isotopes moving through newly cancerous bodies.”

Kavanagh offers the viewer an immersive experience with artworks that have coalesced after more than a decade of research. She repositions archival material, letters, photographs, artefacts and interviews. Personal responses find form in drawings, watercolours, sculpture, video, and collections.

Mary Kavanagh brings into view current conditions of invisibility, exposing us to the present and to the presence of the Nuclear. Derived from the chemical sciences, the term “daughters of uranium” describes the radioactive decay chain of naturally occurring uranium, (U-235 being the crucial element for sustaining a nuclear chain reaction) while evoking generations born into an uncertain future.

Mary Kavanagh is a Professor in the Department of Art, University of Lethbridge, where she teaches drawing and interdisciplinary studio. Her research interests include post-atomic studies; feminist political ecology; technologies of war; and histories of science. For the past decade, Kavanagh has documented military and nuclear sites in Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Alaska, Japan and Canada. She is an advisory member of the Atomic Photographers Guild, and an Associate Member of the Documentary Media Research Centre, Ryerson University. In 2017 she received a SSHRC Insight Grant for her project, Atomic Tourist: Trinity. She was recently awarded a Tier I Board of Governors Research Chair from the University of Lethbridge and will begin her five-year appointment in 2020.

Co-curated by Christina Cuthbertson and Lindsey Sharman. Co-organized by the Southern Alberta Art Gallery and the Founders’ Gallery. An exhibition catalogue with essays by Peter C. van Wyck and Jayne Wilkinson is scheduled for publication in 2020.

 

 

 

Exhibition: Nuclear Visions – The Atomic Photographers Guild

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The John and June Allcott Gallery in Chapel Hill, UNC will be exhibiting APG members work in the exhibition Nuclear Visions: The Atomic Photographers Guild.Berlyn Brixner, Trinity, 1945The Atomic Photographers Guild (APG) is an international collective of artists dedicated to making visible all facets of the nuclear age. APG was created in 1987 by Robert Del Tredici, with founding members Carole Gallagher, Kenji Higuchi, and Harris Fogel. APG documents the history, impact and ongoing legacy of the atomic age – emphasizing nuclear weapons mass-production, atomic testing and proliferation, nuclear power, reactor accidents, attempts at radioactive waste-management, irradiated landscapes, radiation-affected populations, and making the invisible (radiation, loss, death, contamination, exposure) visible.

The APG has an archive of images from 1945 to the present. Prominent works include prints by the first two atomic photographers: Berlyn Brixner of Los Alamos and Yoshito Matsushige of Hiroshima, both included in this exhibition. Brixner was the official photographer of the first nuclear bomb test, Trinity, in the Alamogordo desert, New Mexico, on July 16, 1945; Matsushige was the only photographer to document the atomic bombing of Hiroshima from within the city on August 6, 1945. Carole Gallagher’s work, also included in the show, documents the damage done to down-winders in southern Utah living under clouds of atomic fallout from the Nevada Test Site in the 1950s and early 60s. Robert Del Tredici has photographed the U.S. H-bomb factory complex, uranium mining in the US and Canada, nuclear waste sites, A-Bomb survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and atomic survivors in the U.S. and former USSR. APG members engage the socio-political, discursive, ethical and ecological dimensions of the nuclear era. Through exhibitions, screenings, publications and lectures, members of the APG actively disseminate their work, piecing together the fragments of what could be our darkest, most enduring legacy.

Nuclear Visions was co-curated by APG members elin o’Hara slavick and Robert Del Tredici. Not all APG photographers are included in this exhibition. There will be a table of nuclear related books, some by APG photographers, included in the show.

Photographers included in Nuclear Visions:
Takashi Arai / Japan, Gordon Belray / Canada, Jessie Boylan / Australia, Berlyn Brixner / USA, Dan Budnik / USA, James Crnkovich / USA, Bob Del Tredici / Canada, Harris Fogel / USA, Carole Gallagher / USA, Peter Goin / USA, Grace Halden / UK, Kenji Higuchi / Japan, Mary Kavanagh / Canada, James Lerager / USA, Igor Kostin / Russia, Juri Kuidin / Russia, Yoshito Matsushige / Japan, Takashi Morizumi / Japan, Terry Ownby / USA, Mark Ruwedel / USA, Paul Shambroom / USA, Ursula Shulz-Dornburg / Germany, elin o’Hara slavick / USA, Amirtharaj Stephen / India, Hiromi Toyosaki / Japan, David Wargowski / USA, Vaclav Vascu / Czech Republic, Gunter Zint / Germany

An endowment established in 1983 through the generosity of Nancy and Robin Hanes supports the Art Department’s Visiting Artist Series. This important program brings both established and emerging artists to campus to discuss their work in public lectures and to offer individual critiques to our M.F.A. students.  The Hanes Visiting Artist series greatly enriches both our academic programs and our outreach to the wider community.  All lectures are free and open to the public.

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Hanes Visiting Artist Lecture Series
Robert Jacobs, Nuclear Historian, Hiroshima City University
October 29, 2019
5:30 pm
121 Hanes Art Center
Reception following lecture with a pop-up Sloane Art Library table of nuclear-related books

Admission: Free
Gallery Hours: Monday-Friday, 8 am-5 pm

APG website: www.atomicphotographers.com
Image credit: Berlyn Brixner, Trinity, 1945

Harley Cowen upcoming exhibitions

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APG member Harley Cowan has worked featured in “Notch Code,” a show of large format film in the current issue of the online magazine Light Leaked. Fourteen portfolios total were selected. http://www.lightleaked.com/exhibition-notch-code.html and  an upcoming solo exhibit of my Manhattan Project portfolio at Camerawork Gallery in Portland, Oregon for the month of August. There will be a reception and talk on Friday, August 9th at 6:30pm. Camerawork is the oldest continually operating photography gallery in the U.S.  https://thecameraworkgallery.org/upcoming-exhibitions-cwg/

www.HarleyCowan.com

Preservation of the Manhattan Project

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With an agreement signed on June 28, 2019, the Atomic Heritage Foundation and the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History (pictured) are forging a new partnership to preserve the history of the Manhattan Project and the Atomic Age. This significant agreement will ensure that the Atomic Heritage Foundation’s extensive collection of oral histories, interpretive vignettes, and articles about the Manhattan Project and its legacy will remain available to the public for the foreseeable future.
Founded in 2002, the Atomic Heritage Foundation (AHF) is a nonprofit organization in Washington, DC that successfully led efforts to create a Manhattan Project National Historical Park. Established in 2015, the Manhattan Project National Historical Park has three sites: Los Alamos, NM, Hanford, WA and Oak Ridge, TN. As founder and President Cindy Kelly says, “Over the past two decades, AHF has created a broad array of educational and interpretive resources on the Manhattan Project. We are delighted to partner with the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History to ensure that AHF’s online resources remain available to audiences worldwide.”
Museum Director Jim Walther is equally enthusiastic. “AHF’s websites will greatly enhance the Museum’s online presence. We intend to make full use of the content to enrich our education programs and the museum’s interpretive displays. AHF’s partnership perfectly complements the Museum’s strategic plans for the future.”
The partnership with the Museum is very timely. After 17 years, AHF is closing its physical offices in downtown Washington, DC. With less than 3 percent of World War II veterans still alive, AHF has seen its base of Manhattan Project supporters dwindle over the past several years. With foundations favoring current weapons policy and advocacy organizations and little government support, AHF has found it increasingly difficult to sustain a fully staffed office in downtown Washington, DC.
AHF will continue to be managed by President Cindy Kelly who plans to work with the Museum on the transition and selected projects. Kelly comments, “I have personally enjoyed working with Museum Director Jim Walther for nearly 25 years and look forward to continuing our partnership.”
For nearly two decades, AHF has recorded hundreds of oral histories of Manhattan Project veterans and published dozens more discovered in university and private archives. AHF’s goal has been to engage diverse audiences, especially younger generations, in learning about the Manhattan Project. Through first-hand accounts and programs on YouTube, AHF has successfully attracted a very youthful audience with over half under age 35. Last year, 1.6 million people accessed AHF’s online resources. AHF’s website audience continues to grow at rates over 30 percent per year.
With a robust summer camp and science education programs, the Museum welcomes AHF’s audio/visual programs on scientific innovations that are part of the “Ranger in Your Pocket” series. Museum director Jim Walther observes, “Incorporating AHF’s resources into the Museum’s current and future educational programs will be especially valuable for middle and high school students.”
As Richard Rhodes, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and AHF Board Member writes, “The Manhattan Project was tragic, ironic and epic, but most of all intensely human.” To capture the humanity of the Manhattan Project, AHF has published nearly 600 oral histories on the “Voices of the Manhattan Project” website. The website includes interviews with J. Robert Oppenheimer and General Leslie Groves, the project’s scientific and military leaders, as well as with hundreds of others including women, Native Americans, African-Americans and Hispanos whose stories are often overlooked.
AHF’s main website at atomicheritage.org has hundreds of pages of articles on the history of World War II and the Manhattan Project. One of its most popular features is a database of Manhattan Project participants. Because the Manhattan Project was a top-secret effort, the government did not keep public records. AHF’s directory of 14,000 Manhattan Project veterans is extremely popular online. The Museum is considering having a kiosk so that visitors can search for relatives and others who were part of the project.
AHF and the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History have just begun to explore that many ways in which their partnership can benefit the public. Founded in 1969 and chartered by the U.S. Congress, the Museum is dedicated to preserving the scientific, historic, and cultural aspects of the Atomic Age. Since 2009, the Museum has been at 601 Eubank Boulevard on several acres of land in Albuquerque. Surrounding the museum’s modern building are a B-29 bomber, several rockets and a recreation of the 100-foot Trinity Tower.
As one possibility, in the future visitors might be able to stand under the tower and listen to one of AHF’s oral histories with Lilli Hornig. A chemist on the project, Lilli talks about how her young husband Donald F. Hornig spent the night of the Trinity test atop the tower in a metal shack, babysitting the “Gadget” (pictured) while lightning and violent thunderstorms passed nearby. Hornig concluded that if lightning set off the bomb, “I’d never know about it! So I read my book.”
As one of its first projects, the Museum hopes to upgrade and integrate AHF’s and its own websites. Over time, the Museum hopes to expand the oral histories to include those of Cold War veterans. As Jim Walther remarked, “We are very excited to explore all the possibilities of this new partnership with AHF. It is a fortuitous development with great potential for the Museum and for the preservation of the Manhattan Project history.”

David McMillan: Growth and Decay: Pripyat and the Chernobyl

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Growth and Decay CoverSteidl Books has published a new book by David McMillan: Growth and Decay: Pripyat and the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, April 23, 2019.

Since 1994 Scottish-born Canadian photographer David McMillan (born 1945) has journeyed 21 times to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Inspired by his teenage memories of Nevil Shute’s On the Beach (1957), a disturbing vision of the world following nuclear war, McMillan found in Pripyat the embodiment of an irradiated city still standing but void of human life. As one of the first artists to gain access to “The Zone,” McMillan initially explored the evacuated areas with few constraints and in solitude, save for an occasional scientist monitoring the effects of radioactivity. Returning year after year enabled him to revisit the sites of earlier photographs―sometimes fortuitously, sometimes by design―bearing witness to the forces of nature as they reclaimed the abandoned communities. Above all, his commitment has been to probe the relentless dichotomy between growth and decay in The Zone.


Steidl Books
262 pages, 200 images
Hardback / Clothbound
English
ISBN 978-3-95829-397-7
1. Edition 01/2019

Ed Westcott, a Singular Eye at the Dawn of the Atomic Age, Dies at 97

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Ed Westcott chronicled the work done at Oak Ridge. Here, in one of his best-known photographs, from 1944, women sat at their stations in the calutron, where uranium isotopes were separated. CreditEd Westcott/United States Department of Energy, Oak Ridge

Ed Westcott, a photographer who documented life in Oak Ridge, Tenn., the secret city where uranium was enriched as part of the Manhattan Project to develop the atom bomb during World War II, died on March 29 at his daughter’s home in Oak Ridge, where he also still lived. He was 97.

Read Richard Sandomir’s 


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Harley Cowan joins the APG

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A Cathedral of Science

The APG is pleased to announce the acceptance of Harley Cowan into the Guild. His large format series taken in 2017 of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park in Washington is an important addition to the APG archives and documents the exterior and interior of Reactor B, the world’s first full-scale nuclear reactor which produced plutonium for the nuclear bombs detonated in Trinity, New Mexico, and Nagasaki, Japan.

Harley grew up in Richland, Washington next to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and combined with his experience in architectural heritage documentation and preservation work with the Library of Congress has produced an intimate record of American nuclear industry and infrastructure.

More of Harley’s work can be found at https://www.harleycowan.com/

Image: The loading face of B Reactor (1944), from A Cathedral of Science, Manhattan Project National Historical Park, Washington (2017)