Prefix ICA » Susanne Kriemann Pechblende (prologue)

February 4 to March 26, 2016

Susanne Kriemann
Pechblende (Prologue)

Curated by Jayne Wilkinson

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 radioactive specimens, such as pechblende. 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.

This is the first of two related exhibitions, with the second exhibition, Susanne Kriemann: Pechblende, 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

About the Artist

Susanne Kriemann, born in Erlangen, Germany in 1972, is an artist living and working in Berlin. She studied under Joseph Kosuth and Joan Jonas at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste (Stuttgart) and later attended the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts (Paris). In her expansive projects, she often combines her own images with collected and found photographs in order to investigate issues of historiography, archival knowledge, and the connections between art, literature and archaeology. Her work has been exhibited in solo exhibitions across Europe, including at the Künstlerhaus Stuttgart, Kunsthalle Winterthur, Arnolfini Center for Contemporary Arts (Bristol) and 21er Haus (Vienna). In addition to her installations, she has published numerous artist books, including Ray, A Silent Crazy Jungle Under Glass and Het Licht/The Light. Recently a visiting scholar at Parsons The New School of Design (New York), she is a long-term artist advisor and researcher at the Jan Van Eyck Academie (Maastricht, The Netherlands) and is represented by Galerie Wilfried Lentz (Rotterdam) and Galerie Raebervon Stenglin (Zürich).

Project Supporters

Canada Council for the Arts