The Palace (working title)

In rural central France, vast amounts of nuclear waste will buried deep underground, in what is now viewed as the safest way to dispose of it. The radioactive waste hidden here will potentially remain dangerous for one million years. The secureness of the site must therefore, last forever, and so should its memory; ensuring that future generations do not accidentally, or through curiosity, disturb its contents. Languages have a habit of disappearing. Signs and symbols can be interpreted in a multitude of ways. Communities, environments, landscapes shift over thousands of years. Scientists, anthropologists, archeologists, architects, philosophers and semioticians have all been trying to answer the question of how you leave a warning that future societies can understand and respect?  Creating a culture of memory around burial sites is seen as one answer.

Making photographs around the research sites and potential locations for burying said remains, and working with a combination of documentation, construction and manipulation, I aim to question notions of “permanence” and the “ephemeral”; examining the materials of memory and our fallible structures for preservation and record keeping.

Image information

001: Above ground, Test Site 1, 2019.

002: Underground Test Site 1, 2019. 

Radiation storage underground testing laboratory, Bure, France.

003: Underground Test Site 2, 2019. Radiation storage underground testing laboratory, Bure, France.

004: Underground Test Site 3, 2019. Saint Barbara, the patron saint of mining, at the entrance to the radiation storage underground testing laboratory, Bure, France.

005: Cornflower, 2019. Photogram, with natural materials taken from the landscape above the deep geological storage site.

006: Oil & Stone, 2019. Oil stained town hall, after oil was thrown at the building in anti-nuclear protest in Bure, France. Since 2004, Bure has been home to a rotating group of international anti-nuclear, anti-repository protesters. The protesters form their own memory site, by continually protesting against the deep geological storage, and, presumably, by passing their beliefs on to future generations, keeping the issue in the public eye; their base has become its own sort of monument.

007: Canola flower, 2019. Photogram, with natural materials taken from the landscape above the deep geological storage site.

008: Radiation & glass, 2019. Example of nuclear waste fused with glass (as museum object), Bure, France, at the deep geological storage laboratory’s onsite visitor centre, which forms a part of the nuclear memory programme.

009: Fabric & Glass, 2019. Semiotician Florian Blanquer has been developing what he calls a “praxeological device”; which would be independent of any verbal language, using patterns of signs and visual representations received through a physical experience to teach the person encountering it a brand-new communication system created specially to convey a message about radioactivity.

010: Chalk, Paint, Cement, 2019. Anti-nuclear protest on the road in Bure, France. Since 2004, Bure has been home to a rotating group of international anti-nuclear, anti-repository protesters. The protesters form their own memory site, by continually protesting against the deep geological storage, and, presumably, by passing their beliefs on to future generations, keeping the issue in the public eye; their base has become its own sort of monument.

011: Papers, 2019. Community memory centre, Bure, France. 

012: Flier & Wood, 2019. Anti-nuclear protest documents in bus shelter, Bure, France. Since 2004, Bure has been home to a rotating group of international anti-nuclear, anti-repository protesters. The protesters form their own memory site, by continually protesting against the deep geological storage, and, presumably, by passing their beliefs on to future generations, keeping the issue in the public eye; their base has become its own sort of monument. 

013: Dandelions & Wire, 2019. Semiotician Florian Blanquer has been developing what he calls a “praxeological device”; which would be independent of any verbal language, using patterns of signs and visual representations received through a physical experience to teach the person encountering it a brand-new communication system created specially to convey a message about radioactivity. 

014: Mirrors & Pebbles, 2019.

015: Bee, Cardboard, Buttercup, 2019.

016: Underground Test Site 4, 2019.

017: Branches, Foil, String, 2019.

018: Above ground, Test Site 2, 2019.

Work initiated through Wellcome Trust commission, and some text courtesy of & copyright Helen Gordon.