Imagining nuclear end states: exhibiting care

Petra Tjitske Kalshoven and Wallace Heim

Anthropologist Petra Tjitske Kalshoven and artist and environmental philosopher Wallace Heim show and discuss the exhibition of three sculptures by Heim, x=2140, ( commissioned by Kalshoven as part of the project ‘Sellafield Site Futures’ on the nuclear industry in West Cumbria, North West England. The project explores potential futures for the Sellafield nuclear site and is grounded in ethnographic fieldwork that Kalshoven has conducted since 2017. The Sellafield site is moving into full decommissioning as of 2021, focusing on nuclear waste management and environmental remediation, with an ‘end state’ of the site estimated in 120 years. West Cumbrians are anxious about a future without the nuclear industry, its economic benefits and technological achievements. Kalshoven and Heim will talk about how the sculptures offer ways of thinking about a decision about the future outside the conventions of everyday life. The sculptures include representations of different kinds of knowledge that could come into play. The materiality of the sculptures has associations with the folding and layering of nuclear materials. The sculptures are a provocation, encouraging viewers to imagine what it means to care for soils and waters into a far future; what does that look like, how does it feel.