Aileen Creegan has spent many years researching nuclear weaponry, with her interest stemming from the Minuteman III missile silos the artist saw dotted around remote areas of North Dakota during otherwise soothing crawls around Google Earth.
The artist was fascinated by these structures, being both hidden and in plain sight, with the promise of potential apocalyptic destruction within an operational range of 8,083 miles (13,000 km) sitting in the middle of green pastures and fields of corn.
Creegan is interested in the people, systems, and infrastructure involved in the development of this weaponry over the last seventy years, as well as the impact upon the landscape and communities associated with both the construction, deployment, and aftermath of nuclear devices.
The artist's feelings on this topic are messy. From her research she is fully aware of the tremendous costs in terms of both loss of life and the impact on the natural world. At the same time, she still feels a sense of excitement and awe when looking at images of Yucca Flat at the Nevada National Security Site, described by Clarfield and Wiecek as "the most irradiated, nuclear-blasted spot on the face of the earth" (1984:202). There’s tension in the feelings of delight in the destruction, and sober acknowledgement.
What perhaps seemed a chapter of the Cold War we had agreed to move beyond, the nuclear arms race has returned to public consciousness over the last few years, with a number of states starting to develop new weapons, capable of killing more people more quickly and with greater reach.
The artist will be visiting Nevada and New Mexico in August 2019 for her research piece Acid Capitalist to view Yucca Flat and other sites associated with both the historic and current development of weapons of mass destruction.