Taryn Simon’s exhibition Action Research / The Stagecraft of Power is accompanied by a public program that includes an artist talk on the conception and creation of her two photography series.
Paperwork, and the Will of Capital was partly shown at the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015, and Black Square, started in 2006, has never been exhibited in its entirety before. A special part of the public program will be devoted to the filming of a documentary on questions related to nuclear energy*.
The first part of the documentary was shot in May 2015 at the Radon federal enterprise, as a part of Garage Field Research. Working in collaboration with Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation (ROSATOM), the artist made a black cube (Black Square XVII) from vitrified nuclear material. The process of vitrification took place on May 21, 2015, converting the radioactive waste from a volatile liquid to a stable solid mass resembling polished black glass, which is considered to be one of the safest and most effective methods for the long-term neutralization of nuclear waste. Black Square XVII is currently being stored in a concrete, reinforced steel container, within a holding chamber surrounded by clay-rich soil, at the Radon plant in Sergiev Posad, located 72 kilometers northeast of Moscow. It will stay there until its radioactive properties have diminished to levels deemed safe for human exposure and exhibition. In 3015, approximately 1,000 years after its creation, the work will be permanently displayed at Garage in a custom-designed void.
While Black Square XVII will take many years to finally manifest itself for audiences, the project has given rise to a film, which is under development as part of this exhibition.
During the eight weeks of the exhibition, there will be lectures, talks, and discussions of social, cultural, and political phenomena connected with nuclear energy. The topics will run from radioactive waste storage and disposal to the implications of the atomic bomb and anthropogenic catastrophes.
Of this unusual approach, Simon says: “Many parts of the film are shot by proxy, following my specific instructions, recording places where I’m not allowed to enter as a foreigner. Other scenes include experiences of the atomic industry to which I would otherwise have no access. By this and all the psychological sludge it confronts, the film’s authorship, ownership, and story are in many ways up for grabs—much like the object itself.” The film is due for completion in September 2017.
*Garage is providing technical support for the making of the film.