If The Radiance of a Thousand Suns Were to Burst at Once in The Skies (I)
Pigment print, 2014/2019
Ed. 2/7 + 1 AP
After visiting Fukushima Prefecture after the Great East Earthquake in Tohoku, northeastern Japan, Kawakubo buried silver halide films in the evacuation zone. The artist then retrieved the films after several months and transformed radiation that is invisible to the naked eye into a visible form.*
The title of this work is a quotation from the words of the American physicist Robert Oppenheimer who led the Manhattan Project that produced the first atomic bomb during World War II. Oppenheimer, also known as “the father of the atomic bomb” compared himself to the god of destruction in the Hindu holy text Bhagavad Gita.
“If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst into the skies, that would be like the splendor of the Mighty One...”
* The experts Kawakubo has consulted with regarding this question have considered it very likely that the colors did indeed derive from the radiation. For instance, the yellowish color of the film resembles the traces that airport security scanners leave on photographic film and the wavelength of the hard X-rays that these scanners emanate.