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Atomic Afterimage: Cold War Imagery in Contemporary Art
Curated by Keely Orgeman, Boston University Adelson Fellow
September 5 – November 2, 2008
Opening reception: Thursday, September 4, 6:00-8:00pm
Participating artists: Michael Anastassiades, Bruce Connor, Anthony Dunne, Joy Garnett, Vincent Johnson, Michael Light, Robert Longo, Richard Misrach, Trevor Paglen, Fiona Raby
Atomic Afterimage: Cold War Imagery in Contemporary Art at the Boston University Art Gallery focuses on recent artistic re-interpretations of pictures from the era of aboveground nuclear testing (1945-1962) and new interpretations of weapons-test sites. Despite the politically charged subject matter, the artworks on view are less overtly critical than one might expect. Instead, the ten artists in the exhibition—including Michael Anastassiades, Bruce Conner, Anthony Dunne, Joy Garnett, Vincent Johnson, Michael Light, Robert Longo, Richard Misrach, Trevor Paglen, and Fiona Raby—uncover the role aesthetics played in cold-war politics by playing with these very aesthetics. Several artists find declassified photographs of nuclear explosions (examples of which the gallery will display in printed and digital formats) and incorporate this imagery into their paintings, drawings, photographs, and designs of everyday objects. Some others take pictures that have no equivalents in official archives, recording the landscape and inhabitants of hidden testing sites in the American desert. Taken together, this powerful selection of contemporary artworks constitutes a nuclear aesthetic that was—and continues to be—central to the politics of spectacle and secrecy.
Boston University Art Gallery Gallery Talks
Friday, September 26, 4:00pm
Discussion with Joy Garnett
Friday, October 24, 4:00pm
Discussion with curator, Boston University Adelson Fellow Keely Orgeman
Keely Orgeman, curator of the exhibit, will lead a discussion of the art and explore the conception of the exhibit.
Boston University Art Gallery (Stone Gallery)
855 Commonwealth Avenue
Opening at the Boston University Art Gallery on September 5, “ATOMIC AFTERIMAGE: COLD WAR IMAGERY IN CONTEMPORARY ART” brings together work by 10 artists — among them Bruce Conner, Joy Garnett, and Richard Misrach — who reinterpret images from the era of above-ground nuclear testing (1945–1962). Garnett bases apocalyptic paintings on declassified photographs of nuclear explosions. Conner, in one fine example, uses his skillful way with collage to merge a figure wearing a military jacket with an iconic image of mushroom clouds from the first underwater atomic bomb test at Bikini Atoll, reanimating (and giving a psychological dimension) to an image of power and destruction that might not seem as safely far in the past as it used to. [via Time Bombs, Randi Hopkins, The Phoenix, 8/27/08]