Two new exhibitions at Brown University’s David Winton Bell Gallery focus on the nuclear ecology of sites that have been exposed to nuclear explosions or meltdowns. Pierre Huyghe’s “Untitled (Human Mask)” and Gabriel Martinez’s “Mountain War Time” will run concurrently through May 28. The gallery has scheduled an opening reception for both on May 17 in the List Art Center lobby at 5:30 p.m.
The exhibition of Huyghe’s work is the New England premiere of the internationally renowned artist’s film set in the landscape that surrounds Fukushima, Japan, where a 2011 earthquake and tsunami triggered a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Martinez’s work focuses on Trinity, the site near Alamogordo, New Mexico where the first atomic weapon was detonated in 1945. Alongside images of x-ray film exposed to samples of trinitite—a substance that is created when an atomic bomb explodes over gypsum sands, fusing the granules into a radioactive glass—Martinez’ exhibition includes a video of the recollections of Henry Herrera, a civilian who lived downwind from the Trinity site.
The exhibitions are connected by the artists’ willingness to venture into spaces that were altered by nuclear accidents, in the case of Huyghe, and nuclear explosions, in the case of Martinez, and were organized to coincide with the beginning of the Brown Arts Initiative’s three-year thematic focus on “Arts and Environment,” according to Bell Gallery Curator Ian Alden Russell.
On April 13, the Bell Gallery will host a panel discussion with the artists and curators behind the project “Don’t Follow the Wind,” an ongoing exhibition started on March 11, 2015 inside the uninhabited, radioactive Fukushima exclusion zone caused by the nuclear catastrophe. The collaboration among 12 Japanese and international artists includes new commissions spread over three sites of homes and workplaces lent by former residents. As the zone is closed to the public, the artworks remain inaccessible and largely invisible for years or decades to come. The panel participants will be at Brown for three days for what they are calling an intensive “camp” working on the future plans of their project.
The Bell Gallery is in the List Art Center at Brown, 64 College St. For information and hours of operation, visit www.brown.edu/bellgallery.