As stories about the threat of nuclear terrorism and building additional nuclear power plants appear on our evening news, Patrick Nagatanis Nuclear Enchantment seems eerily up to date.
When Nagatani moved to Albuquerque , New Mexico in 1987, he turned his attention to the regions atomic history and made it the subject of his art into the early 1990s.
The Akron Art Museum
will feature around 25 color photographs from the series he produced, entitled Nuclear Enchantment, from October 10, 2009 through February 14, 2010. All the works are recent additions to the Akron Art Museum collection, thanks to the generosity of George Stephanopoulos. After closing in Akron, this exhibition will tour nationally.
New Mexico was the birthplace of the nuclear weapons industry and remains the site of research, manufacturing and refining of active uranium mines and radioactively contaminated land. The birth of the Atomic Age had personal as well as societal significance for Nagatani. A Japanese-American, he was born in Chicago just 13 days after the bombing of Hiroshima ; his fathers family lived just outside that city. Nuclear Enchantment questions the faith we have in scientific expertise while recognizing that goodsuch as radiation therapy and nuclear powerbut also much harm resulted from the race to develop nuclear weapons.
Nagatanis Nuclear Enchantment series examines how photography influences our ideas about historical truths, says Dr. Barbara Tannenbaum, director of curatorial affairs at the Akron Art Museum. And it probes our societys blind faith in science. Nagatani poses these questions through his images, but leaves it to the viewer to determine the answers.
Nagatanis photographs, while based on exhaustive factual research, are fiction. Photographing at atomic test sites, the locations of nuclear accidents and radioactive waste dumps, he changes these everyday places into the landscapes of dreams and sometimes nightmares. Avoiding the use of a computer, Nagatanis processes instead resemble the special effect techniques of early science fiction films. He stages his scenes in front of the camera, often shooting elaborate combinations of props, posed models and cut-out images in front of actual places. The planes shown in Nuclear Enchantment are mostly model planes from his own collection, which he built from kits. Nagatanis acidic hues are the result of hand coloring and of altering color balances during printing.