I was introduced to Patrick Nagatani at a gallery show in Albuquerque, NM one evening in the late-1980s. He had just been appointed to The University of New Mexico's Art Department faculty, where he would have a successful career over the next two decades. At the time I was writing critiques of photography for Artspace, a quarterly journal of Contemporary Southwest Art. The person who introduced me to Patrick suggested I look at his work, which I did, and then wrote a piece featured in Artspace on his "nuclear" photographs.(1)
Not long after this, Patrick and I discussed the possibility of collaborating on a project on New Mexico's extensive nuclear weaponry infrastructure. He proposed that he do forty photographs and I write forty prose poems. During the process of writing I realized that I could not include my extensive research in the poem, and thus I developed a paratext to carry the information, keying words in the texts to the paratext. [Here, in the digitized version, the paratexts are linked with a button at the bottom of each text.]
The project, which took us two years to complete, and whose title was "The Nuclear Enchantment of New Mexico," was first exhibited at the Albuquerque Museum May 19-August 11, 1991, and later at The Stanford University Art Museum, Oct 19-Dec 12, 1993, at which time my original manuscript was purchased by the museum. Subsequently, The University of New Mexico Press published a book of Nagatani's photographs (2) As the UNM Press refused to publish the texts, I retitled them, "The Deeds and Sufferings of Light," and made them available on-line.
In 2010, The University of New Mexico Art Museum staged a retrospective exhibition of Patrick Nagatani's work, for which I was asked to contribute twelve texts from our project (3). It was then that I began to think about digitally linking the original project, in a smaller format, of course, to which Nagatani generously agreed to contribute thuimbnails of his photographs. Thus, here, for the first time in twenty years, is the complete project.
Polaroids: Patrick Nagatani & Andrée Tracey" Artspace (Albuquerque)