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Ian Robertson
After Hiroshima: Nuclear Imaginaries


Brunei Gallery
School of Oriental and African Studies
University of London

July 12 - September 23, 2005

work: three pieces


The symbolic order of the nuclear age
Nuclear consciousness in the arts has proliferated since the atomic attack on Japan, becoming a visual culture of global dimensions, incorporating historical witness, dystopian narratives of destruction and commemoration.

Research Focus: An enquiry into visual representation. How can visual art deal with the atomic bombing of Hiroshima without being accused of aestheticizing it’s subject?

Context: A continuing enquiry with specific reference to formalism and modernism's approach to representations of violence and destruction. Addressing Paul Virilio’s contentious claim that representational art has been superseded by a pitiless art of presentation. With the attendant discourses on the politicisation of art and the aestheticization of politics. To produce work that critically engages with these issues in the process of its production. What stance do I take, what tone of voice, who is the work addressed to, what of the dead?

Method: A comparison between two stylistic tendencies, one located in modernism's reductive aesthetic using grids and blocks of images taken from newspapers, historical texts, and war records. Parodying objectivity and distance, using photographic lithography. The second approach based on eyewitness accounts, metaphor and traditional Japanese techniques of papermaking. Differences and similarities of managing this material are examined and compared to the current trend within Brit Art to privilege a knowing philistine rejection of aesthetics - "slack stylisation".

Slideshow: Ian Robertson - After Hiroshima: Nuclear Imaginaries

This exhibition was also shown at the Millais Gallery, Southampton Solent University, January 13 - February 25, 2006

Visual Culture and Nuclearisation, a round table discussion, took place on September 23, 2005 at the Brunei Gallery, followed by a symposium of the same name on September 24.

back to Ian Robertson home page

London Metropolitan University