Bringing together an assemblage of archival materials, photo documents, literature and found objects, Pechblende investigates concepts of scale, proximity and distance in relation to radioactivity and the body. In Pechblende (volume), the artist harvested three types of weed – Falsche Kamille, Wilde Möhre, Bitterkraut (False Chamomile, Wild Carrot, Ox Tongue) – on ‘Gessenweise’ in the former uranium mining territories of SDAG Wismut in former GDR. Today, the area is so rich in toxic metals that it is believed to have been polluted for more than 100,000 years. Undertaking field research with the specialist geologists and biologists of the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena who study the accommodation of heavy metals of plants in the area, Kriemann identified the three weeds most capable of extracting and storing their environmental pollutants. The substantial traces of metals found in the plants — lanthanum, gadolinium, germanium, uranium, mercury, lead, nickel, zinc, aluminium, copper and others — are also important raw materials in the manufacture of smart phones: photosynthesis, in these plants, fixes the same chemicals that are now used by millions of us to fix light as photographic images.
Working back in her studio, the artist dried a volume of these harvested plants into a bouquet and photographed these with her phone. The resultant images — taken in the dark and reflecting the flash of her phone’s camera — compress drastically different concepts of time: the thousands of years it takes to recover polluted land; the life of a plant; and the instantaneous flash in the darkroom. Kriemann labelled the resultant prints with the plants’ metallurgic information using ink she had made from their pulp. Each image completes a circle between subject and material, maker and tool.