Michael Sanders

https://instagram.com/michaelsandersartist?igshid=1layww8nibv8c

I am a UK based artist working from a former military airfield in Lincolnshire, England. In 2011 I was awarded the OPEM Purchase/Commission Prize sponsored by the Heslam Trust. My practice often subverts the everyday: as the blundering nuclear tourist I make gentle interventions at former Cold War and nuclear sites, using tartan and textiles to challenge and reappropriate the imagery and symbolism of military power and technology. I also work as a specialist metalworker and welder. I think this gives me a particular insight into both good and bad sides of engineering and how we use and misuse technology.  Statement I seem to be drawn to people and places touched by conflict and much of my work has been driven by reflections on fear and the Cold War, I feel that as long as nuclear deterrents exist the Cold War will not be over.  I am fascinated by the human energy that has gone into this non-conflict. It has a kind of ‘Fearful Symmetry’. When one visits a site of deterrence you know that inevitably somewhere else there will be an equal or opposite of it. It is a system of sinister magnitude and complexity.  Project description  I had the Polaris tartan suit made in 2008 as part of a larger body of work that explored sites and remnants of the Cold War both here and in America. ‘Polaris Military’ Tartan was designed in 1964 for the officers and men of the American Submarine base at the Holy Loch. Polaris was the name of the nuclear missile carried by the U.S. Navy’s ballistic missile submarines in the 1960’s. Originally worn as part of a larger exhibition entitled RUIN mounted in California, which examined the accidental damage caused at Babylon after the second Gulf War, I feel that the suit allows me to don the persona of the “blundering tourist” or “outsider” and simultaneously initiate a process of “re-exporting the original insensitivity of the tartan and taking it on a kind pilgrimage to some iconic nuclear sites.”  Whilst I have taken the Polaris Tartan to sites around the world; this was the first time I returned it to its place of creation in Holy Loch in Scotland. It is close to the current Royal Navy Trident submarine base and weapons store. To accompany the tartan suit, I also wore some nuclear tourist casual wear. The gold work badge on the blazer says ‘We Pump Unseen’ It is a reworking of the Royal Navy’s submariners motto ‘We Come Unseen’.  The Royal Navy at Her Majesties Naval Base (HMNB) Clyde commonly known as Faslane routinely pump radioactive effluent including Cobalt 60 and Tritium into the Gare Loch. The isotope Tritium is also vented to the air from the nuclear weapons stored at Royal Naval Armaments Depot (RNAD), Coulport. This can make its way into the local environment in ‘Tritiated’ rainfall. It seems ironic to me that we are willing to poison our own land in order to defend it.  This work is partly a documentation of my gentle performance interventions; I had negotiated my presence with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) but was on this occasion not allowed into either base. Mostly my only audience were MoD Police officers (I was questioned five times while working and was always monitored on CCTV). It is reassuring that such sensitive places are so secure, but the area carries a dense atmosphere of security and threat. I made landscape photos and recorded the sounds of routine siren tests from the bases using a homemade device, with a megaphone that could both broadcast and receive.  The sirens would be used in the event of a nuclear accident on either site.   I wanted to capture this deceptively beautiful landscape with the picture of HMNB Faslane at Night; I feel the dark foreground is like a slick travelling across the Gare Loch to the submarine base.   The scale of the weapons store at Coulport is misleading, It was originally the Polaris weapons store and was updated to accept Trident missiles in the 1980s and 90s and much is tunneled into the mountain. At the time it was the second most expensive procurement project in the UK after the Channel Tunnel project. After I approached the fence to make the triptych photograph, I found myself in a stand off with a white pick up truck that appeared behind the fence. No one got out and it waited until I left. It is depressing to find oneself in places where you feel scared of the consequences of photography. I wanted to create a dirty surveillance feel with this image.  Note: These works are scans from original C-type prints printed from film, in the event the work is selected, I would provide higher resolution scans made.

Venue- Broadway