Atomic Histories | Book Launch & Roundtable

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Through Post-Atomic Eyes

edited by Claudette Lauzon and John O’Brian (MQUP, 2020)

The Bomb in the Wilderness: Photography and the Nuclear Era in Canada

 by John O’Brian (UBC Press, 2020)

Moderated by Professor Claudette Lauzon

School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University

Thursday, November 12th, 2020, 7 pm

Registration for Zoom Event is here

The Documentary Media Research Centre (DMRC) in the School of Image Arts at Ryerson University is pleased to host the dual launch of Through Post-Atomic Eyes, edited by Claudette Lauzon and John O’Brian (MQUP 2020) and The Bomb in the Wilderness by John O’Brian (UBC Press 2020). Please join us for a roundtable discussion with contributors: Matthew Farish, Blake Fitzpatrick, Claudette Lauzon, Katy McCormick, John O’Brian and Charles Stankievech. All registered guests will receive a 20% discount on the books.

In recognition of the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, two signature events in the twentieth century with implications still evolving, these publications are both highly anticipated and timely.

The nuclear era is a contested subject in representation and as John O’Brian has suggested, few aspects of the nuclear environment have escaped the camera’s gaze. Juxtaposing the work of artists and scholars, Through Post-Atomic Eyes asks: What can photography tell us about a world transformed by nuclear catastrophe, and how has photography and contemporary art offered a lens through which to see – or not to see (because so much of it involves problems of invisibility) – aspects of the nuclear era?

Erin Siddal, Peace Camp, as part of Proving Ground, Nevada, 2017.

The Bomb in the Wilderness: Photography and the Nuclear Era in Canada considers the role of the photograph in visualizing, remembering and interpreting nuclear activities in Canada since 1945. The impact of Canada’s nuclear programs has been felt ever since the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the reach of those programs – its nuclear footprint – has been global.

Richard Harrington, Beijing, China: left: Children Reading Anti-American Sign; right: Movie Billboard with Mushroom Cloud and Soldier Wearing Anti-Radiation Gear.


Matthew Farish is associate professor of geography and associate chair, undergraduate, at the University of Toronto where he teaches courses in cultural and historical geography. He is the author of The Contours of America’s Cold War (University of Minnesota Press, 2010) and a forth-coming co-authored history of the Distant Early Warning (Dew) Line.

Blake Fitzpatrick is professor in the School of Image Arts at Ryerson University and co-director of the Documentary Media Research Centre. His research interests include critical landscape studies, the photographic representation of the nuclear era, visual responses to contemporary militarism. He is co-editor of Critical Distance in Documentary Media (Palgrave Macmillan 2018) and contributed a chapter on the aerial image in contemporary documentary art for the volume.

Claudette Lauzon is assistant professor of contemporary art history and theory in the School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University, where she specializes in visual culture, critical theory and conflict studies. She is the author of The Unmaking of Home in Contemporary Art (University of Toronto Press, 2017) and co-editor (with Natalie Alvarez and Keren Zaointz) of Sustainable Tools for Precarious Times: Performance Actions in the Americas (Palgrave, 2019).

Katy McCormick is associate professor of photography studies in the School of Image Arts at Ryerson University and co-director of the Documentary Media Research Centre. Her photographic work examines commemorative sites, revealing narratives and social histories embedded in landscapes. Her current project, Rooted among the Ashes: The A-Bombed Trees of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, begun in 2008, offers intimate portraits of trees, both alive and dead, that survived atomic attacks.

John O’Brian was until 2017, professor of art history at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. He is the author or editor of twenty previous books, including Camera Atomica, David Milne and the Modern Tradition of Painting, Ruthless Hedonism, and the four-volume edition of Clement Greenberg: The Collected Essays and Criticism, which was named by the New York Times as a “best” book in 1986. He is the organizer of five exhibitions on nuclear photography, which have been shown in Copenhagen, London, Toronto and Vancouver.

Charles Stankievech is the director of visual studies at the University of Toronto. He is an artist, writer and curator who has exhibited, written and lectured on a variety of interests for the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; HKW, Berlin; as well as Documenta, Venice, Berlin, Kiev, Montreal, Santa Fe, and other biennales. He is co-founder of K. Verlag in Berlin and editor of Afterall Journal in London.

This event is supported by the Documentary Media Research Centre (DMRC). The DMRC develops new scholarship and research/production methodologies in all forms of contemporary documentary practice.  The DMRC disseminates the results of its research activities through conferences, publications, public film screenings, curatorial projects and exhibitions. See:

Media Contact: Katy McCormick

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On November 5, 2020

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