The Nuclear Roadshow

The Nuclear Roadshow is one of five Live Art commissions awarded by Projects UK in 1990. It is a collaborative project between artist Roxane Permar and photographer Susan Timmins highlighting the threat posed by the nuclear industry to the Shetland Isles which echoes past experiences of abandonment and evacuation.

The objective is to take art out of the gallery and into the landscapes of Shetland. By placing the work in Shetland it brings some of the ways in which the islands are threatened by the nuclear industry into sharp focus. The proposals for the expansion of the nuclear re-processing plant at Dounreay and Nirex's proposals for the burial of nuclear waste has coincided with the period of the artists' growing involvement with the Islands. The project brings together their common concerns for issues relating to the nuclear industry with their fascination for Shetland itself.

The artists will use a variety of locations throughout the islands so that the meaning of the exhibition will change with the specific associations attached to each site. The main features of the work will remain consistent: black and white photographs mounted in weatherproof stands and grouped in clusters overlooking the landscape and neighbouring buildings. The buildings will be filled with what appears to be fossilised remains.

The photographs, taken by Susan Timmins in Shetland over the last five years, show the “debris” of countless generations–standing stones, burial cairns, abandoned and ruined crofts, rusting car parts, fishing nets and discarded work gloves. The way in which they are presented suggests the systematic documentation of artefacts from a society stopped dead in its tracks–echoes of Chernobyl and its haunting images of hasty evacuation and permanently abandoned farms and villages.

The artists will fill the buildings with the components that have characterised Roxane Permar's work since 1983 on the theme of the nuclear family. The windows of each empty building will be stacked and stuffed with items of clothing, domestic objects and toys stiffened with flesh coloured plaster. As their squashed and crushed forms settle into place, they begin to suggest the cross section of test bores, geological strata or mass burial.


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