Following the exhibitions ‘Architecture of Waiting’ (2004) and ‘Tongkonan, Alang and the House without Smoke’ (2008), ‘KURCHATOV - Architecture of a Nuclear Test Sites is the third architectural exploration by the photographer Ursula Schulz-Dornburg to be presented at Aedes in the last 10 years.
In October 2012 Schulz-Dornburg (Berlin, 1938) had the opportunity to photograph the former USSR nuclear weapon test site near the city of Kurchatov, approximately 600 km east of Astana on the border with Siberia. Here, 60 km from Kurchatov, lay the remnants of urban life - houses, streets, bridges, underground entrances etc. - which stood on the nuclear weapon test site between 1947-8 and were used to analyse the destructive strength of atomic bombs. Between 1949 and 1991 around 480 atomic bombs were detonated here.
The photographs by Ursula Schulz-Dornburg depict the remaining concrete vestiges from the time of a megalomaniacal arms race and act as silent witnesses to a destroyed topography that stretches out as far as the eye can see. They present architecture constructed in the name of science, power and alleged heroism. Today, robbed of any measuring and scientific instruments, they appear like architectural sculptures in a surreal landscape, one that is contaminated for the rest of time.
Additional archive images, which Schulz-Dornburg and her assistant Aljoscha Puschkin were able to photograph in the museum in Kurchatov and in the Eco Museum in Karaganda, form the accompanying documentation in newspaper format. These photos from the time of the nuclear weapon tests and afterwards reveal the gradual decline of the facilities that have been tracked down now by the photographer and are still latent.
Place: Aedes am Pfefferberg, Christinenstr. 18-19, 10119 Berlin
Exhibition dates: 21 March - 8 May 2014
Opening: Friday 21 March 2014, 6:30
Opening hours: Tues-Fri 11 am-6:30 pm, Sat-Sun 1-5 pm