Pechblende (prologue)

Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art is pleased to present Pechblende (prologue), a solo exhibition featuring a new body of work by German artist Susanne Kriemann, curated by Jayne Wilkinson. Bringing together an assemblage of archival materials, photo documents, literature and found objects, the exhibition 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), Kriemann’s project traces a history of scientific and photographic processes narrated through the interconnected sites of laboratory, archive, museum and mine. Highly radioactive and uranium rich, pechblende 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 has now been 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 pechblende 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. Reading the exhibition elements together, one might consider this assemblage a nuclear prologue, one that offers a way to read pechblende, and its constellations of emanating rays, as an archive of the future.
Pechblende (prologue) is the first of two related exhibitions, with the second exhibition, Susanne Kriemann: Pechblende: a library for radioactive afterlife (chapter 1), to be presented at the Schering Stiftung (Berlin) from March 18 to June 5, 2016. An opening reception will be held Thursday, March 17 from 7 to 9 PM. For more details, please visit

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