Nuclear Aesthetics

Why Nuclear Art Matters

In order for Nuclear Princeton’s information-spreading mission to be comprehensive, it must become comprehensible as something other than information. Art is the best way to synthesize the complexities of the nuclear issue into one picture, or one story, that people can connect to as they cannot to statistics. The works of photographer Patrick Nagatani and novelist Leslie Marmon Silko materialize the consequences of American nuclear development in the Southwest on indigenous communities into comprehensible wholes. From these works we can draw connections between cultural ideas and events that, though always there, have been covered over by the sands of historical neglect. One of our missions is to uncover them by presenting the works of the two artists mentioned above.

Leslie Silko

Leslie Silko is often considered the best novelist coming out of the so-called "Native American Renaissance," the movement of American Indian artists that became popular during the 1970's. In Silko's novels, the characters are Indians, trapped between the twin traumas of their history and present, that nonetheless push on towards a new identity. They are often staged in the Southwest United States, and consequently in or around uranium mines. ...

Read more about Leslie Silko

Patrick Nagatani

Patrick Nagatani was a Japanese American photographer that focused on transcultural perceptions of American nuclear development and its consequences in his series Nuclear Enchantment. His goal is to facilitate the interaction of people from diverse regions and backgrounds with images depicting nuclear landscapes (whether they be uranium mines, nuclear missile parks, roadsigns, cemeteries, labor housing built for miners, etc.). He firstly defamiliarizes the subject by transposing two incongruous scenes atop one another, as he does in his photograph of Hopi Clowns transposed over... Read more about Patrick Nagatani