A NUCLEAR HAPPENING AT SITE A
AMBER GINSBURG AND ALICIA CHESTER
On July 14, 2013, Alicia Chester and I held an experimental performance at Site A in the Red Gate Woods just south of Chicago. Site A is the burial ground of the first nuclear reactor, CP-1 (Chicago Pile 1). The site where its radioactive waste was buried is nearby in Plot M, which is simply marked by a white stone cube. We fabricated a 14’ x 14’ inflatable transparent room at Site A in the form of the cubed marker at Plot M. The experiment worked, and we held a picnic inside with invited guests, the centerpiece of which was a layer cake representing CP-1, the first reactor. The concept was to collapse symbolic spaces by bringing a ghostly version of the memorial shape of Plot M’s stone marker to the burial ground of Site A. Through inviting friends to a communal event and sharing a cake in the form of CP-1, the event took on the flavor of the Day of the Dead, commemorating the life and death of the first nuclear chain reactor and all the complications that entailed from this local Chicago history.