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A closer look: 'The Eternal Blast' at Eleven Twenty Projects

Strong

An architectural rendering of Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester is part of "The Eternal Blast" in Eleven Twenty Projects.

Artist: Ludocivo Centis with University at Buffalo architecture students // Title: "The Eternal Blast" // Through May 18 in Eleven Twenty Projects

The complex and painful legacy of the Manhattan Project was the impetus for this exhibition that documents various buildings and other sites throughout the United States that were involved in the secretive and far-reaching project. The image above depicts Rochester's Strong Memorial Hospital, which, according to project leader Ludovico Centis, UB's 2013-14 Peter Reyner Banham Fellow, "was home during the Manhattan Project years and the following decades to non-consensual human experimentation programs with radioactive solutions." (You can read more about those programs in Andrew Goliszek's book "In the Name of Science.")

The renderings and other material in the "Eternal Blast" show, including interviews with experts compiled in a separate publication, add up to a reconsideration of exactly what a "monument" is and how it functions. For most of us, buildings like Strong Hospital seem to stand for certain easily identifiable things, chief among them the noble pursuit to cure diseases and eradicate human suffering. But this exhibition aims to make viewers aware of the much more complicated legacies of our buildings and other monumental structures, which just as often serve as testaments to more shameful and painful periods in human history. At Strong, where more than a dozen patients were injected with plutonium or uranium without their knowledge, this is especially true.

According to the exhibition's organizers, the renderings in the show are "spinal landscapes," or "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."

--Colin Dabkowski

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