Together We Can Prevent Earthquakes: Wall Drawing by Tucker Nichols
When I invited Tucker to produce a show at Mission 17, he proposed converting the gallery into an “earthquake prevention center.” We discussed the installation as the combination of a think-tank, a dreamscape, and the ravings of desperately isolated, half-mad individual, dead-set on attempting the impossible. The project had been inspired in part by Tucker’s work campaigning in the recent presidential election, but promised to address broader issues concerning hope, fear, powerlessness, and fate. Tucker spoke about the desire to prevent earthquakes as both beautiful and absurd. He wanted to address experiences of vulnerability, to connect them to the promises and problems of social life, and ultimately to examine the nature of political and religious illusions.
Then a tsunami hit Southeast Asia.
The horror of this catastrophe was overwhelming, and we considered cancelling the show. With time and further discussion, however, we came to see the original motivations for the project as now all the more compelling. How does tragedy bind us together? How do social-conflicts exacerbate natural disasters? What is the place of compassion in our fragmented modern world? What fear and vanity inform the questions asked on television news programs: “could this happen to us?” and “how can it be prevented?”
We hoped this show might provide the opportunity to begin addressing the experience of this disaster, to work through some of its sadness and terror, and in the process to better understand ourselves, the wonder and absurdity of our place in the world, and our relationships to one another.