If there’s one exhibition i’m dying to see at the moment, it’s Perpetual Uncertainty / Contemporary Art in the Nuclear Anthropocene at Bildmuseet in Umeå. The show brings together artists who respond to our contemporary ‘nuclear age,’ an age punctuated by disasters such as Chernobyl, Fukushima and their far-reaching fallout, marked by continuous nuclear weapon developments, tests and threats but also by long-term storage of radioactive waste.
One of the works in the Bildmuseet exhibition attempts to make sense of the vast timescales involved in the topic. INHERITANCE, by Erich Berger and Mari Keto, is a set of jewelry artifacts made of gold and other precious metals but also of naturally mined Thorianite and Uraninite. The presence of these radioactive stones renders the accessories practically and symbolically unwearable for deep time, until the radionuclide transmute naturally into a stable and non radioactive isotope of lead.
The jewellery pieces are kept inside a stackable concrete container which contains a time piece modeled after a Fenjaan water clock (one of the first instruments to measure time), as well as all the instruments necessary to measure and record the amount of radiation remaining in the jewellery: an electroscope, a rod with a piece of fur to electro-statically charge the electroscope, a timer for recording the time as well as instructions that detail the rituals to be performed generation after generation until it is safe to wear the jewellery.
With these artefacts comes also an auto-radiography of the jewellery. An auto-radiography is an image produced when the radioactive energy emitted by an object takes a photo of the object itself.
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