Touching Power: White Womanhood, Colonial Spectacle, and the “Forces of Nature” at the Boulder Power Inaugural


  • Sarah Kanouse Northeastern University


This article examines the 1936 Boulder Power Inaugural, a civic spectacle celebrating the arrival of the first electricity from Hoover Dam in Los Angeles. The event mobilized, in ways it could not entirely control, narratives about gender, colonization, progress, and the “laws of nature.” As California repurposes its twentieth-century infrastructure for an era of climate chaos, it is necessary to consider—and transform—the cultural meanings and social relations of energy.

Author Biography

Sarah Kanouse, Northeastern University

Sarah Kanouse is an interdisciplinary artist and critical writer examining the politics of landscape and space. Her solo and collaborative work has been presented through the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Documenta 13, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, The Cooper Union, The Smart Museum, and numerous academic institutions and artist-run spaces. A former fellow at the Rachel Carson Center, she is associate professor of media arts in the Department of Art + Design at Northeastern University.