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Atomic Afterimage: Cold War Imagery in Contemporary Art at Boston University Art Gallery
Untitled- Mike Test (Head of Goya), 2003. Charcoal on mounted paper, 72 x 96 in. Collection of the Artist, Courtesy of the Artist and Metro Pictures, New York.
BOSTON.- 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.



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