Foto © Mika Schwarz, 2018
Text © Susanne Kriemann, 2023
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.
Centred on the mineral Pechblende (the German word for a type of uraninite), the work traces a history of scientific and photographic processes narrated through the interconnected sites of laboratory, archive, museum and mine. Highly radioactive and uranium rich, pitchblende was relentlessly mined in the Ore Mountains of the former German Democratic Republic between 1946 and 1989, ultimately facilitating nuclear armament in the USSR. Despite the toxicity of the mines, and the documented health threats to the miners who worked there, the landscape of the Ore Mountains is now under way to being transformed into a tranquil mountain vista, with few recognizable traces of the still-radiating industrial worksites.
Concerned with both the literal and the political invisibility of radioactivity, Kriemann worked with scientists at the American Museum of Natural History (New York), the National Archives (Washington) and the Museum of Natural History (Berlin) to produce various versions of an “autoradiograph”–a unique type of photograph that is the result of directly exposing light-sensitive paper to the pitchblende specimens. This cameraless exposure results in an indexical but highly abstract image, one that is haunted by impressions of the iconic nuclear mushroom cloud and its blinding light.

Susanne Kriemann (1972, Germany) lives and works in Berlin. She is professor for Artistic Photography at the University of Arts and Design Karlsruhe and co-founder of the artist initiative ABA AiR Berlin Alexanderplatz in Berlin.
Kriemann investigates the medium of photography in the context of social history and archival practice. With an extended notion of the photographic document, she reflects on the world as an analogue “recording system” for human-caused processes. This has led to preoccupations with radioactivity and mining, archaeology and the notion of slow violence. A focus on ecology is prevalent in Kriemann’s subjects. To perceive polluted areas as vast photosensitive arrays is key to her understanding of landscape. An exceptional feature is the extraction of pigments from the investigated matter and the use of those pigments to produce her pictures.
Kriemann’s work was exhibited internationally, upon others at The Wattis San Francisco; Kunsthalle Wien; Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam; Kunsthalle Winterthur, Arnolfini Bristol, the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg and Salonul de projecte Bucarest; She has participated in the 11th Shanghai Biennial, the 10th Gothenburg Biennial, the 5th Moscow Biennial and 5th Berlin Biennial. Further she participated in various artist residency programs, including 2019 NTU CCA Singapore and Goethe Institute Colombo; she has co-published seventeen artist’s books since 1998.


︎︎︎ Akademie der Bildenden Künste Nürnberg

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