Craig Varjabedian (American, b. 1957)
La Conquistdora at the Trinity Nuclear Test Site Near Socorro, New Mexico (1996)
Gelatin silver print, 18 x 22”
Gift of Craig and Kathryn Varjabedian, 2001.4
When did the Anthropocene begin?
The argument that we live in a new Human Epoch is clear. We have new materials, populations, behaviors, climates, and objects that have never appeared on planet earth before, and which are globally distributed. Less clear is when our new epoch began. Geologists prefer the approximate date of the mid-20th century (~1950) because that date coincides with the beginning of the Great Acceleration in human population size, ecosystem disruption, materialism and energy consumption, and coincides with the beginning of atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons, which began at this site in New Mexico in 1945. The later addition of La Conquistadora signifies an earlier disruption, the "discovery" and transformation of the Americas beginning with Christopher Columbus in 1492. This is another candidate date for the beginning of the Anthropocene.