Daughters of Uranium

Daughters of Uranium

Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Lethbridge, Alberta
2 March, 2019 - 28 April, 2019
Founders' Gallery, University of Calgary, located at The Military Museums, Calgary, Alberta
27 September, 2019 - 26 January, 2020

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 what is now called the Nuclear Anthropocene.

In this exhibition, Mary Kavanagh 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 a series of collections.

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. Daughters of Uranium exists as an atomic archive, one that calls into question temporal and topographical notions of scale and proximity; the very near and the very far; the big and the small; the old and the new; the before and the after.

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 by Information Office in 2020.

Southern Alberta Art Gallery
Founders' Gallery