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The Eternal Blast: Monuments of the Manhattan Project in the Empire State

An exhibition by Ludovico Centis, 2013-2014 Banham Fellow, University at Buffalo Department of Architecture

Exhibition: Opening Reception

Friday, May 2, 2014

Eleven Twenty Projects

1120 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14209


Exhibition Runs May 2-18, 2014, Thurs-Sat 11am - 4pm

The Eternal Blast Poster

All of the sites connected with the Manhattan Project, the program that produced the first atomic bomb, together constitute the most powerful contemporary North American "monument." They raise crucial questions about landscape, nuclear energy, and collective memory. The vastness of the land areas involved in the Project and the nearly infinite life of the radioactive byproducts produced are equally impossible to grasp; a fact that radically subverts contemporary notions and perceptions of what a 'monument' is as well as many preservation paradigms. 

In recent history, the notion and perception of what constitutes a "monument" have become blurred. Even the physical boundaries of a monument can be unstable, expanding or contracting in the vast landscapes of North America. How and why do we perceive that something has become a monument, or should be preserved as such? Is it still necessary to build monuments? Will monuments continue to evolve in their shape, use, and characteristics?

Texts, maps, photographs, drawings, and diagrams investigate these "spinal landscapes," places where the ever-increasing tension between nature preservation and collective consciousness, and between the need for secrecy and the demand for participation, is truly tangible.

The exhibition is the result of a project developed in the 2013-14 academic year at SUNY University at Buffalo. The visual body of work derives from a collective work developed with the students of UB’s School of Architecture and Planning, as well as from archival research in libraries throughout the State of New York. Historic materials compiled from private collections enrich the exhibition, while a series of interviews with experts from different disciplines based in Buffalo along with lectures from international professionals in the fields of art and architecture are collected into a  publication.