The Boston University Art Gallery PresentsAtomic Afterimage: Cold War Imagery in Contemporary Art

Contact: Lauren Davalla, 617-358-1688 |

(Boston) – The Boston University Art Gallery (BUAG) opens its season with a thought-provoking new exhibition, Atomic Afterimage: Cold War Imagery in Contemporary Art. The exhibition focuses on recent artistic re-interpretations of pictures from the era of above ground nuclear testing and new interpretations of weapons-test sites.

The 10 artists whose work is included in Atomic Afterimage are Michael Anastassiades, Bruce Conner, Anthony Dunne, Joy Garnett, Vincent Johnson, Michael Light, Robert Longo, Richard Misrach, Trevor Paglen, and Fiona Raby. Each artist uncovers the role aesthetics played in cold-war politics by playing with these very aesthetics.

Keely Orgeman, the exhibition curator, notes: “The works point to ideological connections between the nuclear age and the present, but they do so in very subtle ways. For example, rather than creating works that are clearly about the spectacle of nuclear testing, artists like Longo simply exaggerate the scenes’ drama through scale and medium.”

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.

“The art delivers strong political messages without being heavy-handed,” says Orgeman. “I think the display will be both aesthetically pleasing and psychologically unsettling because of the incredibly dark, yet beautiful, subject matter.”

Combined, this powerful selection of contemporary artworks constitutes a nuclear aesthetic that was—and continues to be—central to the politics of spectacle and secrecy.

Dedicated to serving the public of New England as well as the university community, Boston University Art Gallery (BUAG) is a non-profit art gallery geared toward an interdisciplinary interpretation of art and culture. Maintaining an ongoing exhibition schedule in its current location since 1958, now named the Stone Gallery, exhibitions focus on international, national, and regional art developments, chiefly in the twentieth century. BUAG has a particular commitment to offer a culturally inclusive view of art, one that expands the boundaries of museum exhibitions.

BUAG is located at 855 Commonwealth Avenue, at the Stone Gallery inside the College of Fine Arts building on the Boston University campus (BU West T stop on the “B” Green Line). Gallery hours are Tuesday-Friday 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Saturday & Sunday 1:00 – 5:00 PM (closed Mondays and holidays). For more information, please visit



Friday, September 26, 2008 at 4:00 PM
New York-based artist Joy Garnett will discuss how archives and the Internet have played a large part in her works included in the exhibition. (Location: BUAG at the Stone Gallery)

Friday, October 24 at 4:00 PM
Keely Orgeman, curator of Atomic Afterimage and doctoral student at Boston University, will lead a discussion on the artists, images, and ideas that informed the exhibition. (Location: BUAG at the Stone Gallery)