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ASU artist's installation exposes issue of nuclear waste


February 13, 2007

An Arizona State University professor employs amplified tuning forks, laser light beams, and a white hazmat suit to perform an unusual sound and video art installation that explores the dilemma of how to store nuclear waste safely for ten millennia.

Richard Lerman, sound/video artist and professor of media and audio arts in the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at ASU’s West campus, will present the thought-provoking exhibition, entitled “Half Lives: Nuclear Waste,” during March at the Icehouse in downtown Phoenix. He is one of three artists composing the IN-CRIM’I-NA’TION show, which is sponsored by the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Performance at ASU’s West campus.

“My installation raises awareness of the problems of where and how safe storage of nuclear waste is being addressed now. It also raises the question of how to warn future generations about nuclear-waste sites thousands of years from now in the face of changing language and cultures,” Lerman said. “It underscores the awesome responsibility we have as guardians of nuclear waste.” 

Lerman shares the IN-CRIM’I-NA’TION show with Phoenix installation artist Mona Higuchi and sculptor Susan Copeland. Higuchi’s “Camouflage Makers” focuses on Japanese-American internees who were required to construct camouflage nets for the U.S. military during World War II. It focuses on an historic photograph taken by Dorothea Lange in an internment camp at Manzanar in California. Copeland’s “Children, Population and Poverty” compares racial demographics of children living in poverty in the United States. This is her third installation in an ongoing exploration visually depicting statistics, race and disparity in American society.

The IN-CRIM’I-NA’TION show opens March 2 from 6 to 10 p.m. as part of First Friday. It will run again on Saturday, March 3 from noon to 8 p.m. and Sunday, March 4 from noon to 6 p.m. as part of Art Detour. Lerman’s performance is March 16 at 8 p.m. as part of Third Friday. The exhibit is also available by appointment from March 2-16.

The Icehouse, an historic building in the Phoenix warehouse district, is located at 429 W. Jackson St., at the corner of Jackson Street and Fourth Avenue.