Pechblende (Chapter 1)

18.03.2016 — 05.06.2016

Opening Hours: Thursday through Monday, 1–7 p.m.

Ernst Schering Foundation

Unter den Linden 32–34 | 10117 Berlin

The Ernst Schering Foundation is pleased to present the new work Pechblende (Chapter 1) by Susanne Kriemann. Centered on the mineral pitchblende (uraninite), the exhibition of the Berlin-based artist narrates the history of scientific and photographic processes through the interconnected sites of laboratory, archive, museum, and mine.

The highly radioactive and uranium-rich pitchblende was extensively mined in the Ore Mountains of the former German Democratic Republic between 1946 and 1989, which made the GDR the third largest uranium producer in the world and helped facilitate the nuclear armament of the USSR. The restoration of the landscape, which began after the fall of the Berlin Wall, is expected to be finished by 2045. The continuing radiation is increasingly forgotten.

Concerned with both the literal and the political invisibility of radioactivity, Susanne Kriemann, for several years, conducted research at the American Museum of Natural History (New York), the National Archives (Washington, DC), the Museum of Natural History (Berlin), and the Museum Uranbergbau (Bad Schlema).

In Pechblende (Chapter 1), Susanne Kriemann reflects on the artistic possibilities of making the invisible visible. She employs both analog photographic methods and auto-radiography – a technique in which light-sensitive material is directly exposed to radioactive objects. Combining her auto-radiographs with archival material and museum objects, the artist literally illuminates the radiation that is capable of remaining invisible despite the light it emits. As library for a radioactive afterlife, the
exhibition at Ernst Schering Foundation is also chapter 1 of the virtual library www.pechblende.org, which makes available to the public a steadily growing collection of textual and visual material.

In parallel with this exhibition, the prologue to Susanne Kriemann’s work can be viewed at Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art, Toronto, until March 26, 2016. In Pechblende (Prologue), the artist combines her own auto-radiographs and photograms with archival images drawn from various sources, including aerial and scientific photographs that demonstrate how animal, plant and human life is contaminated by radiation.