Eve Andree Laramee, Fluid Geographies


“Fluid Geographies” is an art work currently in progress that investigates the environmental legacy of research and development of atomic weapons in Northern New Mexico. Los Alamos National Laboratories, the “birthplace” of the atomic bomb, is situated atop Pajarito Plateau, nineteen miles Northwest from Santa Fe. The lab property is divided by several canyons or arroyo that remain dry most of the year. During the Manhattan Project and the following Cold War years, more than 17,500,000 cubic feet of radioactive and other toxic wastes were buried in unlined-pits surrounding the labs, in cardboard boxes, plastic containers and steel drums.

complex fields of production, shifty extractionary interventions, milling of rock into powder, stealth accumulative procedures, discreet unseen aggregations, percolations through strata and time

In the year, 2000, it was disclosed that strontium-90 was detected in Northern New Mexico water.

bodies of water, bodies of land, bodies of knowledge, physical bodies, virtual bodies, "pure" physical space, politics of location, blurred borders, unfixed boundaries, semi-permeable membranes, local-global, center-periphery, spatio-temporal geographic homeland, interconnected networks, ownership of land

In 2001 the Cerro Grande fires denuded the land and erosion patterns shifted. By August 2002, elevated levels of tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, were detected in the drinking water, ground water and deep aquifer water in Los Alamos. Tritium emits beta particles that do not penetrate the dead outer layer of the skin, however, tritium is an internal hazard, not an external one. Tritium tends to “move” like water. When ingested, the blood distributes tritiated water throughout all of the bodily fluids, as though it were normal water. The majority of one’s body weight is made up of soft tissues, all of which can be irradiated by the decaying tritium. The result of any tritium ingestion results is a “whole body” equivalent dose. The rate of brain and nervous system and thyroid cancers is considerably higher in this region than in other state and national reference populations.

environmental and behavioral topologies, probability surfaces on the social landscape, mapped across human space, mapped onto the body, this map is a text of power relations, a broken map which is always unfinished, a map with indeterminate boundaries, misplaced data, temporalities of distraction, natural-unnatural phenomena, invisible disasters

Los Alamos National Laboratory confirmed this fact in the press, stating that the tritium is a byproduct of the Lab’s weapons-related activities. The indigenous Native American Cochiti Pueblo and San Ildelfonso Pueblo lands lie directly downstream from the Pajarito Plateau, as do the Buckman Wells that supply water to the city of Santa Fe. Since 2002, other weapons-related radioactive toxins including plutonium, polonium, technitium, have been detected in the ground water and deep aquifer water.

voices speak against spaces collapse

The Bush administration has approved substantially enlarging the disposal areas, and has approved the production of a new generation of plutonium "pits" or warhead cores at Los Alamos.

the shadow is never mapped out, the territory unstable

President Bush recently allocated $141 million dollars to clean up the labs beginning next year, however the Lab officials estimate the cost of cleanup at $1 billion, and need $282 million this year to get started (the $1 billion figure from the labs is significantly lower than what independent environmental scientists estimate the clean up costs will be.)

space breathes down its neck and throat and invents a time between texts, thousands of spaces, thousands of miles of years

In June, 2007, the labs released the information that 38 drums of radioactive waste were recently "lost" and can't be found after a 4-month long inventory.

errant zones of uncertainty

My role as an artist in relation to this information is part messenger, part activist, part whistle-blower. This work has been shown as work-in-progress because the work is ever always in progress. There is no solution.

environmental violence, disrupted ecosystems, bodies of water moving in all directions

At this time, the project consists of large digital prints, maps, photographs, and an archive containing declassified documents, years of newspaper clippings, reports from the Los Alamos Study Group an independent group of environmental scientists, Los Alamos Laboratory’s official report on "WATER", and a 6-minute long video. The format of the installation flexible and fluid: it can occupy a few feet of wall space, or a shelf, or an entire room.

different conceptions and perceptions of space and place collide, co/inabit(u)ate invisible chasms,  proximities, layers of stories and information that tie land and people together in interconnected networks, hiding in the folds of maps, particles silently slipping past one another in the spaces between cells, between selves

Eve Andrée Laramée 2007