Marianne Templeton

ARTIST / WRITER / CURATOR / ETC.

AFTER THE FLASH:
PHOTOGRAPHY FROM THE ATOMIC ARCHIVE
@ WORK Gallery 10.10–20.12.14


Photography plays a crucial role in shaping public perceptions of the atomic age and its legacy of anxiety. Cameras not only record nuclear events, but also assist in their production–whether as agencts of scientific measurement, propaganda or protest. They witness the unseeable on our behalf, offering insight into broader nuclear narratives and receal recurring tesions between invisibility and visibility, and obliteration and transformation.

Drawing on the extensive personal archive of art historian and curator John O'Brian, After the Flash focuses on North American visual culture from the 1940s to the 1980s, coinciding with the golden age of photojournalism. The exhibition comprises three sections: Cameras and Clouds; At Work in the Fields of the Bomb; and The Culture of Contamination.

After the Flash is curated by John O'Brian and Marianne Templeton. It precedes a major retrospective exhibition of nuclear-themed photography at the Art Gallery of Ontario in 2015, Camera Atomica, curated by John O'Brian. An accompanying publication by Black Dog Publishing and AGO, Camera Atomica, is edited by O'Brian and designed by João Mota.

After the Flash


After the Flash 00
Composite press photographs relocating atomic destruction from deserts and foreign soil to the streets of New York. From left: Dante "Ace" Tranquille, Atomic Blast Lights Up The Entire City, 1953; John Carlton, Air-Burst Atomic Explosion, 1949; Associated Press, H-Bomb Can "Destroy" City, 1954. All works from the collection of John O'Brian. Courtesy of the photographers and WORK Gallery.
After the Flash 01
Installation view of Cameras and Clouds section. All works from the collection of John O'Brian. Courtesy of WORK Gallery.
After the Flash 04
Installation view of At Work in the Fields of the Bomb section. All works from the collection of John O'Brian. Courtesy of WORK Gallery.
After the Flash 02
Masking the extent of its destruction with obliterating light and opaque mass–eclipsing ethics with aesthetics and technology–the mushroom cloud has become shorthand for the nuclear. From left: Bikini Atoll Atomic Bomb Test #2, Micronesia, 1946; Joint Army-Navy Task Force One, Atomic Fireball As Seen From The Air, 1946. All works from the collection of John O'Brian. Courtesy of the photographers and WORK Gallery.
After the Flash 03
In the 1940s, a clicking Geiger counter could symbolise either danger, or a lucrative find. From left: Associated Press, Checks for Radioactive Contamination, 1947; Wide World Photo, Testing for Uraniam, 1949. All works from the collection of John O'Brian. Courtesy of the photographers and WORK Gallery.
After the Flash 07
Through controlled press access to nuclear facilities, the Atomic Energy Commission sought to naturalise nuclear power and promote the image of the 'peaceful atom'. From left: United Press, Canadian Reactor, Chalk River, 1955; International News, Workers at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, 1952. All works from the collection of John O'Brian. Courtesy of the photographers and WORK Gallery.