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

[DoU Exhibition Catalogue link to purchase]

Daughters of Uranium considers the legacies of nuclear production, and the encoding of militarized conflict on the body. Derived from the chemical sciences, the term "daughters of uranium" refers to the 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.

Cultural anthropologist, Peter C. van Wyck describes the exhibition as a territorial archive in which “the archive as site shifts towards the archive as practice,” and one that “calls into question temporal and topographical notions of scale and proximity.” Using materials that are literally radioactive such as glass coloured with uranium oxide, or trinitite samples forged during the first atomic bomb blast, Kavanagh’s work radically challenges notions of contamination and containment, invisibility, violence, exposure and evidence.

In her catalogue essay, “A Radioactive Domestic,” Jayne Wilkinson offers a feminist reading of the exhibition, noting that Kavanagh structures the Nuclear as a totalizing concept rather than a specific event or period. By not relying on nuclear signifiers in broad circulation such as photographs of enduring mushroom clouds, “Kavanagh’s approach is unique in the visual records of the atomic era…. [her] work frames a critique of militarism and military aesthetics through encounter and touch in order to understand how war impacts the body through generational histories.”

An exhibition catalogue co-published by the Southern Alberta Art Gallery, the Founders' Gallery, and the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery, features essays by Christina Cuthbertson, Lindsey Sharman, Jayne Wilkinson, and Peter C. van Wyck.