Jevijoe Vitug’s social environment, To Be Titled (Fusion), reflects the history of Nuclear Testing by creating an artificial environment containing a representation of a Nucleus, and examines social practice through sustainability and the interconnectedness of community and environment.
Jevijoe Vitug’s first appearance at 5th Wall Gallery began in March, with the performance Nuclear Fusion with collaborator and downwinder, Patricia Gordon Dominguez. “Downwinder” refers to the individuals or communities who lived downwind of nuclear testing locations, including the Nevada Testing Site, and have been exposed to radioactive contamination from the nuclear testing. Many living in the surrounding cities of the Nevada Testing Site, such as Las Vegas, St. George, and Salt Lake City, were left with high levels of radioactive iodine in the atmosphere from nearly ninety tests, especially from 1950-1960, which has been known to cause biological damage passed through lineage. Dominguez also appears in the documentary, Dirty Harry: When the American Dream Becomes a Nightmare, in which she is interviewed about her experiences and the affects of living downwind of the Nevada Testing Site.
In Nuclear Fusion, Vitug and Dominguez linked their shoe laces to the ball of shoes which is currently installed in 5th Wall Gallery. At that time, the shoe sphere was approximately one-third its current size, but still heavy enough to weigh down Vitug and Dominguez as they struggled to walk through an unsuspecting crowd, stretching from 5th Wall Gallery to Las Vegas Boulevard, and ending at The Fremont Experience. The two worked cooperatively in order to advance each step. At times, the ball would cause the two to halt, enforcing that mobilization relies deeply on each other. As they continued on their path along the street with the ball still attached to their shoes, they handed out pamphlets regarding a forum at the National Atomic Testing Museum that both Vitug and Dominguez were part of organizing at the time. The pamphlet contained information about nuclear testing sites in Nevada and Kazakhstan (former Soviet Union), and its effects on its people and the environment. As Dominguez handed out pamphlets, she approached viewers stating, “Nobody wins the Arms Race. There is nowhere to go. We are constantly tied together.”
Each shoe in a pair are opposites of each other (left and right), but both counterparts are necessary for functionality. Vitug utilizes each pair of shoes to symbolize two opposing players that need each other to exist. He compares this notion to the Cold War’s arms race between the Soviet Union and the United States, as well as the correlation between the downwinders in Kazakhstan and Nevada. By interconnecting the shoes in a sphere, Vitug conveys the fundamental connection between each person, or party, represented by the shoes. Nuclear Fusion utilized both the human body and the shoe sculpture, through a physical demonstration, to express the concepts inspired by the history of downwinders and nuclear testing.
A few months later, Jevijoe Vitug implored the Las Vegas community to donate pairs of shoes for the making of To Be Titled. Local artists also participated in making shoe inspired art to trade for each donation. The community gathered together, making new experiences with the old memories connected with each shoe, which are now all linked by shoe lace. The same sphere that was used in Nuclear Fusion has grown three times in size since the community’s contribution. Today, 122 pairs of used shoes form a large sphere under a glowing illumination that mimics Las Vegas’s neon landscape. The Cold War’s Arms Race operated in a mode of destruction, but eventually it led to global cooperation. To Be Titled revitalizes the history rooted in Nevada, and invites its viewers to investigate their own relationships to the community and to the environment. – Eri King, 2012
To be Titled (Fusion), 2012
Approximately 24 inches in diameter
Fusion (Race), 2012
Photo documentation of a performance
Nuclear Fusion, 2012
Photo documentation of a performance in collaboration with
downwinder and activist, Patty Dominguez, Las Vegas, Nevada.