Critical Mass

Photographs 2008-2011
Artist monograph & exhibition

In Critical Mass Danner documents the architecture, everyday routine, and security systems of all 17 German nuclear power plants, as well as the radioactive waste repository Asse II and the Gorleben exploratory mine.



High hopes and deep skepticism have accompanied the use of nuclear power up to the present day. In the euphoric mood that prevailed in the 1950s, everything seemed possible; people took part in an unprecedented economic upswing and found nuclear energy to be a fascinating technology of the future. But in the 1980s the optimism of the years of boom gave way to a skepticism that was further fueled by the catastrophic nuclear accident in Chernobyl. Anti-nuclear activism has now shaped the political consciousness of a whole generation. And the disaster in Fukushima in 2011 heralded yet a new era in the debate – it seems that a nuclear phase-out in the medium-term is now inevitable. However, the issue of the final disposal of radioactive waste is still unresolved.

Danner’s pictures give us a rare glimpse behind the scenes of the power plants, showing areas that are normally off-limits. His series is accompanied by historical photographs and texts that document the planning and construction phases of the plants and visualize the social tensions. The layout of the book and the cut through the front cover refer to the interaction of the present time and the past and the conflict between nuclear power opponents and the authorities.

In seiner Arbeit Critical Mass dokumentiert der Fotograf Michael Danner die Architektur, den Alltag und die Sicherungssysteme aller 17 deutschen Atomkraftwerke, das Endlager Asse II sowie das Erkundungsbergwerk Gorleben. Große Hoffnungen und tiefe Skepsis haben die Nutzung der Atomkraft bis in die Gegenwart begleitet. In der Aufbruchstimmung der 1950er Jahre schien alles möglich, man partizipierte am wirtschaftlichen Aufschwung und fand in der Atomenergie eine faszinierende Technologie. Der Optimismus der Boomjahre wich in den 1980er Jahren einem Misstrauen, das mit dem Reaktorunglück in Tschernobyl eine reale Grundlage bekam. Der Aktivismus gegen die Atomkraft hat das politische Bewusstsein einer ganzen Generation geprägt. Die Katastrophe in Fukushima 2011 läutete vorerst eine Zeitenwende ein – der mittelfristige Ausstieg aus der Atomenergienutzung scheint beschlossen. Die Frage der Endlagerung radioaktiver Abfälle aber ist jedoch weiterhin ungelöst.

Danners Bilder geben einen seltenen Einblick ins Innere der Kraftwerke und zeigen normalerweise unzugängliche Bereiche. Seine Serie ist verschränkt mit historischen Bilddokumenten aus der Planungs- und Bauphase der Kraftwerke und macht so den gesellschaftlichen Konflikt visuell erfahrbar. Das Layout des Buches und der durchbrochene Buchdeckel verweist auf die Überlagerung von Gegenwart und Vergangenheit und die Auseinandersetzung zwischen Kernkraftwerkgegnern und Staatsgewalt.




Text by Susanne Holschbach
with photographs by Günter Zint and the archive of the police department
Design -SYB-
Hardcover 17x22.5cm
288 pages
122 color and
29 b/w-illustrations
Kehrer Publishers Heidelberg - Berlin
ISBN 978-3-86828-391-4
EUR 39.90

Traversing controversial territory
Michael Danner’s images of nuclear power stations
by Susanne Holschbach

Nuclear power battle-ground
A collage from my schooldays shows a street lined with tanks, masked police of officers, strewn rubbish and dead branches: its vanishing point bordering the oversized dome of a nuclear power station. Pithily captioned “the best way”, the naivety of these thematically-linked scenes, which informed the development of my teenage politics in the early 80s, reveals the symbolic importance of nuclear energy during this period. It stood as much for the vague threat of the escalating nuclear arms race as it did for the equally vague threat of looming environmental destruction. Nuclear power? No thanks! said the logo with the smiling orange-red sun on a yellow background (1), ubiquitously worn as a badge attached to a jacket or a sticker on a school satchel. Quite simply, it was the most recognisable symbol and mark of one’s af liation (real or perceived) to an alternative movement, which would eventually lead to the establishment of the Green Party in Germany. A few people from my school year actually travelled to protests, to Brokdorf for example (2), or they camped out in the Free Republic of Wendland (3). Most of us, however, contented ourselves with symbolic protests from afar.

Designed in collaboration with the Dutch graphic designer Sybren Kuiper, Michael Danner’s book opens with a look back to this time of heated confrontation between anti-nuclear power activists and the government. The front cover of his book already announces Danner’s concern with this overlapping of past and present. Black and white shots taken by the photojournalist Günter Zint (4), who documented the events in Brokdorf, Gorleben and Wackersdorf from the perspective of the anti-nuclear activists, present the campaign sites as battle zones: helicopters circle above; water cannons are directed towards individual anti- nuclear protesters; a group of a hundred or so police officers, fully clad with helmets and armed with riot shields, barge through the door of a residential dwelling; barbed-wire reinforced enclosures are secured with a solid police presence. These scenes are almost diametrically opposed to the image of “the peaceful use of nuclear energy”. An abrupt change in the sequence of images suddenly transports the viewer to the present day setting of these once fiercely-contested sites: a black and white shot of a small group of protesters, carrying a banner through a village street, can be seen directly alongside a view of the town in colour, taken by Danner. More than twenty years after his own participation in – peaceful – protests, Michael Danner has explored the very soul of the “enemy”. Between 2007 and 2011, Danner visited all seventeen of the anti-nuclear power sites in Germany, as well as the Asse II terminal repository for radioactive waste and the exploration mine at Gorleben. He also photographed the exterior surroundings as well as the interiors of the power stations: a visual exploration of a terrain that, despite the renewed publicity around the subject of nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, is unfamiliar to us in its topography.

Landscapes with cooling towers
Danner’s series of images follows the clear narration of gradually moving from the outside to the inside. We approach the nuclear power stations from a distance and then are led closer to the buildings, traversing entrance areas fitted with airlocks, stepping into changing rooms and taking detours to offices, canteens, gyms and exercise rooms, medical examination rooms and training rooms, and finally arrive at the control centres. Additional airlocks grant passage into the machine room and, finally, we enter the innermost, arcane area of the reactor itself, the steel ball in which the actual reactor containing the fuel rods is located. At the beginning of the series, we encounter images of ploughed fields, a path winding through rolling hills, river valleys, a sparse birch forest, a rural settlement at dusk, with the nuclear power station in the far background. These images enable Danner to pick up on a motif of nuclear power iconography that has become a well-worn cliché by now: the landscape with cooling towers that centres our gaze as the towers of a cathedral would have done in times gone by. This iconography is based on the conflict inherent within the paradox of nuclear energy: on the one hand, the promise of clean energy that does not pollute the countryside with fumes and is produced in power stations erected far away from industrial conurbations, but, on the other hand, the potent reminder, in the form of these very power stations, of the lurking danger of nuclear catastrophe. Danner sites both the commercial imagery of the white power station amidst a lush green landscape and clear blue skies, with the symbolic imag- ery of the nuclear power station striking a threatening pose in an otherwise “intact” landscape in very real and concrete surroundings. This concrete and site-specific quality is a result of changing perspectives, alternating close-ups and distant views as well as the change in seasons and times of the day that Danner captures (5). The mood of a sunny autumnal day, the brilliance of an evening sky, or the melancholy of bleak, barren fields grab one’s attention more than the power station itself, which becomes a minor presence.

Working environments
Close up, the power stations initially look like prosaic industrial buidings, not particularly distinguishable from other functional sites. Even the boundary between the exterior and interior, manifest here in the form of electronically secured metal barriers, turnstiles and single-entry access control doors, is a common characteristic of factories as production areas shielded from public view (6). As is common to other areas of containment (to which Michel Foucault adds institutions such as prison, hospitals and military barracks), transferring to this domain involves cleansing rituals as well as a change of outfit: the act of putting on a uniform, in which one’s personal identity is discarded in favour of a collective one. Once we cross this barrier - a crossing that Danner deliberately delays by presenting a series of images of rows of keys, lockers, dosimeter charging stations and changing rooms -, we reach a fairly standard work environment that seems to indicate white rather than blue collar activities. We see a writing desk with Post-it notes, coloured notepads and wall calendars, a flip chart with management-speak platitudes, atrophied indoor plants, grey tted carpets and filing cabinets – the banality of an office environment. Rather than exploring the types of activities performed there, however, Danner draws our attention to the manifestations of a corporate culture which strives to forge a common bond among its members. We see a crucifix on the wall, a sign of the Bavarian identity, a decorated Christmas tree in the canteen, glass display cabinets filled with cups and other trophies signifying team victories, bulletin boards illustrating overseas partnerships and a humorous sculpture indicating that you can, at times, laugh about your job. By using photographs of different power stations, Danner repeatedly creates small typological sequences which, as in the case of the key cabinets, serve to amplify the message or highlight the stylistic similarities and differences between individual power stations. In one facility, for example, the display cabinets are placed in the corridor, whilst in another they are made a prominent feature by serving as room-dividers.

The technologically sublime
After crossing through a large number of rooms, which only give odd and rather random hints at the potential risk inherent in working at a nuclear power station, we unexpectedly find ourselves in the control room; its antiquated name (‘Warte’ in German, approximating to ‘watchtower’ in English) spans an entire semantic field and transposes associations with medieval fortresses, military surveillance and look-outs onto this high-tech environment. With their rows of complex control panels and monitors, rooms such as these are emblematic, as it were, of post-industrial production processes, signifying the transformation of manual labour into discrete computing operations (7). Danner’s photographs, however, subtly break the purity of these retro-futuristic scenes. A bottle of mineral water on a side table and a discarded rucksack left carelessly next to a chair are not only signs of absent engineers; they also suggest these absent people’s corporeality - and thus their fallibility. We need to cross a further threshold in the form of a huge pressure lock. After a page break, we are granted access to a technological assemblage of turbines, capacitors and generators, known as the second circuit, in which heat energy from the reactor is converted into electrical energy. Even if the functionality of this assemblage is comparable to conventional power stations, it produces a totally different aesthetic to that of the coal and steel industry, which has become seemingly inseparable from the black and white photographs of Bernhard and Hilla Becher (German artist-photographers known for their photography of industrial buildings). The homogenously-illuminated white rooms are contingent, above all, on the chromaticity of the plant facilities, which differs from location to location. Each facility seems to have its own specific colour design. In the pictures of the engine rooms, views of the reactor building (a steel dome horizontally divided into two sections separated by a sliding floor) intrude. Detailed views of tubes and wires (all of the wiring in the power stations is visible rather than buried), scaffolding and objects covered in plastic sheeting alternate with long photographic shots that bring the monumental nature of the plant into view. The series culminates in an aerial view into the blue depths of a reactor’s pressure tank, its spent new nuclear fuel rods removed in preparation for re-loading. A page break leads us out of the pressure container and directly underground – into a succession of tunnels that eventually lead to large doors or grilles. Through the images, we retrace the route that the Castors (the trade name CASTOR stands for cask for storage and transport of radioactive material), seen previously in the long shot of the reactor room (8), take to their final destination, the tunnels of Asse and Gorleben. Although the photographs thus follow the technical flow of operations, the language of the shots does, however, change both visually and metaphorically, from the technologically sublime to the underworld. After seemingly endless meanderings through a network of tunnels, which signify, both actually and symbolically, the long-deferred - repressed - issue of storing radioactive waste, we find ourselves in a dark space of ambiguous dimensions. This is the inner rim of the cooling towers, where, during the winter months, the water vapour condenses into feather ice. At the end of the journey, we have left the organisational and security regime of the changing rooms, medical examination facilities and control centres, as well as the brightness and spaciousness of the engine rooms, far behind us. We are now in thick fog – an almost romantic image of the impenetrability of the unleashed fundamental force of nuclear fission.

Free-floating mindfulness
In his text accompanying the photo book “Japan”, the English artist and curator Jeremy Millar, describes Danner’s camera as “[...] a camera that watches, that looks, and is aware that looking is activity enough.” (9) Millar’s characterisation refers to photographs taken of landscapes, cityscapes, interior spaces and scenes from everyday life on several trips to Japan between 1999 and 2001. These images neither satisfy the tourist’s desire for the Other or the exotic, nor do they present an exhaustive topographical description of the region they are concerned with. The term “Japonism”, arguably coined by Roland Barthes, comes along in passing: cherry trees in bloom, Asian calligraphy, a statue of the Buddha. This is just one of the many aspects of an area that is, ultimately, more similar to, than different from, our Western way of life. In a similar way to his visual journey through Japan, Danner lets his eyes wander over the power stations. The camera switches from close-ups to long- distance views, draws our attention to detail and then slips off into the distance, without following any particular pattern. The camera allows itself to be drawn in by the surreal aesthetic of colourful piping, colossal machines and hyperbolic spaces. It captures the conceptual rigidity of a serial arrangement of work overalls, hard hats or circuit diagrams, the cool atmosphere of glossy modernised canteen kitchens, and the trendy chromaticity of electrical generators, turbines and spent fuel pits – only to draw our gaze, abruptly, to an inconspicuous corner filled with banal objects. At one level, our perceptions of high tech and the nuclear-power danger zone are certainly confirmed, but we are also repeatedly taken out of the comfort zone of our preconceptions by wholly unexpected images: an ice cream van parked outside, a chair chained to a wall, a sheet of plastic held together with adhesive tape, covering a mysterious object. Nothing is explained, but much is shown. We are asked to form our own impressions, come to our own conclusions and follow up our own questions about the images put in front of us.

What can be shown?
“The intelligence of the work no longer finds its physiognomic, and therefore photogenic, manifestation in the immense symbiosis of inorganic machines and the organic physicality of the workers. On the contrary, both themes, inorganic and organic, represent the visual prostheses of the intangible: the digital ‘heart’ of the plant.” This is how Hartmut Böhme, writing on Timm Rautert’s series of photographs of car factories from the “third Industrial Revolution” (10), has commented on the issue of invisibility (a problem both Brecht and Benjamin had already grappled with before him). What is a photograph actually able to achieve, if reality does not appear on the surface but instead slides into the realm of functional and intangible? (11) The problem intensifies in the case of nuclear power stations, where the removal of visibility affects, leaving aside for the moment the socio-political and economic structures of energy production, not just the level of electronic control systems, but also the actual process of nuclear fission itself, the “heart” of the facility, to use, if I may, an organic metaphor. Danner’s photography must thus also face up to the question as to what these invisible enclosures (Gehäuse des Unsichtbaren) actually allow us to see (12). For “Critical Mass” neither documents the operational processes at a nuclear power station, nor do the images of its technical facilities allow the lay person to understand the processes of energy production and transformation. What we see are rooms and objects; the schematic diagrams of nuclear power stations, such as one would nd in an encyclopaedia entry, have been completely eradicated. According to the science historian Bruno Latour, rooms and objects, just as humans and the forces of nature, are agents in the processes of creating knowledge or fostering technical innovation. Even the workings of a machine as complex as a nuclear power station are, in this sense, the result of a network of different human and non-human forces at play. By isolating them, Danner brings the activity of the rooms and objects into focus, for example the demands these place on the discipline of the human actors, the employees. It is only indirectly that we can apprehend what this entire disciplinary apparatus revolves around: the unseen radioactivity, of which as little as possible must escape. It could be said, through the clues scattered throughout the book – air and pressure locks, cleaning rooms, measuring stations, the protective sheeting with warning notices written on them, medical examination rooms – this very radioactivity gradually builds up as the images we consume accumulate in our minds. What these images do not allow us to do, however, is to form definitive judgements on nuclear technology. By stepping sideways and framing his images with archive pictures, Danner passes this question back into the hands of society: the only place where the benefits and parameters of use of this technology can really be decided.

1 The symbol of the anti-nuclear movement was designed by the Danish activist Anna Lund in 1975 and is still used today.

2 On 28 February a large protest took place in Brokdorf after the deci- sion to halt construction, brought about by massive demonstrations in the 1970s, was reversed. In the course of the demonstration, violent clashes broke out that necessitated the use of water cannons, tear gas and police helicopters, whilst militant protesters threw petrol bombs, stones and other missiles.

3 In May 1980, the Free Republic of Wendland was proclaimed at the deep-drilling exploration mine at Gorleben. The camp was cleared out by police after a month.

4 At the beginning of the 1980s, Günter Zint, born in 1941, co-founded the “Pan-Agentur für alternative Pressefotogra e”, a German press agency for alternative press photography.

5 Most of the shots are taken in the autumn or winter with a more overcast sky.

6 In fact, nuclear power stations are equipped with particularly sophis- ticated enclosure facilities (also photographed by Danner but omitted from the book in favour of internal security systems that aim to pre- vent external radioactive leakage).

7 In the case of nuclear power stations, however, the control system continues to be analogue (running across a row of separate circuits). Each circuit has a separate control box with its own key.

8 This refers to the view of the reactor room with the enormous cranes. On the right, next to the platform above the reactor container, we see an erect container clad in scaffolding. The spent fuel rods are put into a fuel cooling installation, stored in CASTOR containers and trans- ported outside via a specially designed release lock

9 So! An essay accompaniment to Michael Danner’s book “Japan”, CASA Centro de Arte de Salamanca in 2003.

10 Hartmut Böhme: Gehäuse des Unsichtbaren. Timm Rauterts Foto- gra en der Dritten Industriellen Revolution. In: Timm Rautert: Ge- häuse des Unsichtbaren, Katalog des Ruhrland-Museums Essen, Es- sen 1992, pp. 88–93, here p. 88.

11 Cf. Walter Benjamin, “A Small History of Photography,” One Way Street, trans. Edmund Jephcott and Kingsley Shorter (London: NLB, 1979), pp. 240-257.

12 See footnote 10.




99 books, magazines and records; variable dimensions

During the 1980s, the debate about nuclear power in Germany was accompanied by a virtually unmanageable number of publications not few of which reached best-seller status. Critical Mass Library is a loose compilation of such books, magazines and records containing contributions of a large number of involved parties, among them operating companies, scientists, state representatives and anti-nuclear activist groups.

The ambitious development of nuclear power was intended as a means to accelerate growth and overcome the economic stagnation of the 1970s. For the conservation movement, this energy policy was the symbol of an obsolete path to growth and the anti-democratic confraternity of industry and politics. "Nuclear sleaze", "nuclear lobby", "nuclear mafia", "nuclear state" were some of the most popular slogans used at that time.

A look at the list of the various authors and editors from the anti-nuclear resistance movement shows the capability of integration of this heterogeneous mass movement. Publications served the production of knowledge accessible to everyone; in fact, numerous citizens acquired extensive technical knowledge, helping them, for instance, in their attempts to fight official approval procedures. The unsettling appearance of many front pages is significant of the acrimonious conflict about a technology that embodies the paradoxicalities of modern life like few others do.

2016 Kunstquartier Bethanien, Berlin

La Zona exhibition 2012, Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst (NGBK), Berlin

La Zona exhibition 2012, Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst (NGBK), Berlin




Jonathan Blaustein in aPhotoEditor, 24.4.2015

Sabin Bors in Anti-Utopias, 2.4.2015

Sylvia Souffriau interview in Urbanautica, 10.3.2015

Floris van Cauwelaert in Zeronaut, 29.9.2014

The New Yorker, 9.9.2014

Amelia Rina in Art Practical, 5.8.2014

Frank Dietz interview in art-Das Kunstmagazin, 1.8.2014

Aram Lintzel in Camera Austria, #125, 2014

Thomas Wiegand in Kasseler Fotobuchblog, 10.5.2014

Sabina Paries in Photonews, April 2014

Simon Hall in Photographic Museum, 13.3.2014

Alexander Strecker in Lensculture, 12.3.2014

Joanna Cresswell in PaperJournal, 28.2.2014

Jonathan Bell in Wallpaper, 29.11.2013

Carsten Probst in Deutschlandradio Kultur, 21.11.2013

Ulla Fölsing in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 11.11 2013

Stephan Dieper in 4view, 10.11.2013

André Leslie in Deutsche Welle, 17.10.2013

Solveig Grothe in Der Spiegel, 14.10.2013

Stephan Fuchs in German Pulse, 30.7.2013

Almanya’nın Kapanan Nükleer Santrallerine Yakın Çekim in Yapi, 26.7.2013

Özay Şen in Technopat, 23.7.2013

Jakob Schiller in Wired, 22.7.2013

Jens Hinrichsen in Monopol, 9.7.2013

Lars Mensel in The European, 2013, pp 32-45

Amin Farzanefar in La Zona (catalogue NGBK), 2012

Jakob Schiller in Wired, 22.7.2013

Caroline Kurze in Ignant, 21.5.2012

Maren Lübbke-Tidow in Polar, autumn 2011

Ein Fotobuch über die Atomkraft in Deutschland
Ulla Fölsing

"Kritische Masse" bezeichnet in der Kernphysik die für eine Kettenreaktion nötige Mindestmenge spaltbarer Stoffe. Genauso hat Michael Danner jetzt sein Fotobuch über die Atomkraft in Deutschland genannt. 135 Aufnahmen aus den Jahren 2007 bis 2011 dokumentieren Architektur, Sicherungssysteme und Alltag von 17 aktiven oder kürzlich abgeschalteten Kernkraftwerken (AKW) wie Isar, Grafenrheinfeld, Brokdorf und Krümmel sowie vom Endlager Asse II und dem Erkundungsbergwerk Gorleben. Danners Kamera schaut dabei ins Innere von normalerweise unzugänglichen Bereichen. Aus der Fülle der narrativ zusammengebundenen Bilder entsteht eine bundesdeutsche AKW-Chronologie.

Zum Einstieg verwendet Danner historische Schwarzweißfotos aus Landesarchiven und von seinem Kollegen Günter Zint aus den siebziger und achtziger Jahren. Sie erinnern an die heftigen Konflikte und bürgerkriegsähnlichen Auseinandersetzungen zwischen Kernkraftgegnern und Staatsgewalt bei der Planung und beim Bau von Atomkraftwerken. Auf Zints martialische Kampfszenen aus Brokdorf, Gorleben und Wackersdorf mit Hundertschaften militanter Demonstranten, massiver Polizeipräsenz, Wasserwerfern, Tränengas und Hubschraubereinsatz lässt Danner ruhige Landschaftsbilder in sanften Farben folgen. Sie zeigen intakte, schöne Natur und schließlich eine ländliche Siedlung in der Abenddämmerung.

Eher nebensächlich tauchen am Horizont in bewährter Atomkraft-Ikonografie Kühltürme wie die Türme einer Kathedrale auf. Aus der Ferne führt der Fotograf an die Gebäude einzelner Kraftwerke heran, durchquert die Schleusen ihrer Eingangsbereiche, gelangt über Büros, Kantinen, Untersuchungszimmer und Umkleideräume in Schaltzentralen, Maschinenräume und schließlich in den innersten Bereich des Reaktors zur Stahlkugel mit eingelagerten Brennstäben.

Der Weg ins Allerheiligste verläuft wenig spektakulär: Wände voller penibel aufgereihter Schlüssel, Schließfächer, Aktenschränke, Schreibtische und Zimmerpflanzen muten wie ein beliebiges Büroumfeld an, und selbst das einsame Kruzifix in der Warte des AKW Isar scheint bajuwarische Normalität. Auch die Steuerzentrale mit Schalttafeln und Monitoren verweist eher auf postindustrielle Produktionsprozesse, nicht aber auf das besondere Gefahrenpotential von Arbeitsplätzen in Kernkraftwerken. Die Turbinen, Kondensatoren und Generatoren in fröhlichen Pop- Farben, die Wärmeenergie aus dem Reaktor in elektrische Energie verwandeln, könnten ebenso zu einem konventionellen Kraftwerk gehören.

Erst das monumentale Reaktorgebäude und der Blick von oben ins tiefblaue, geheimnisvoll leuchtende Innere eines Reaktordruckbehälters lassen ahnen, wo man sich befindet. Von dort geht es alsbald in den Untergrund - in einer langen Sequenz immer unwirtlicherer Tunnels, die sich schließlich in Nebel auflösen. Am Ende steht purer Symbolismus: Die nur noch schemenhaften letzten Bilder stehen wohl für das nach wie vor ungelöste Problem der Endlagerung radioaktiver Abfälle.

Danners Buch kollagiert die Bilder dramaturgisch geschickt. Die Perspektive wechselt von Nahsicht zur Totale, vom Detail zur Serie, um sich vom Schauplatz zu entfernen und aus der Distanz zu beobachten. Erklärt wird nichts, gezeigt viel. Skurrile Merkwürdigkeiten wie das nie in Betrieb genommene, heute zum Vergnügungspark umfunktionierte AKW Kalkar kommen nicht vor. Erwartungen im Hinblick auf die Gefährlichkeit von Kernkraftwerken werden nur schwach bestätigt. Denn Danners Aufnahmen haben nichts von dem Schrecken der Fotos, die von der steigenden Radioaktivität des geborstenen Atomkraftwerks Fukushima sprechen. Doch sind es in Japan letztlich die Ruinen, die Furcht und Entsetzen einflößen. Die tödliche Radioaktivität selbst lässt sich nicht abbilden, genauso wenig wie der Prozess der Kernspaltung, der sich aller Anschauung entzieht.

Im Anschluss an Walter Benjamin spricht die Fotohistorikerin Susanne Holschbach im Begleittext vom "Gehäuse des Unsichtbaren". Weil sich in Atomkraftwerken normalerweise die Realität nicht an der Oberfläche zeige, rücke Danner Räume und Dinge isoliert ins Blickfeld. Sie dienten zum Beweis der Anforderungen an die unabdingbare Disziplin der dort tätigen Mitarbeiter. Denn nur indirekt lasse sich zeigen, worum der ganze Apparat der Disziplinierung kreise - "die unsichtbare Radioaktivität, von der möglichst wenig nach außen dringen soll".

Schleusen, Warnhinweise, Schutzanzüge und Dosimeter, Messstationen, Reinigungs- und Untersuchungsräume - am Ende von Michael Danners Bildkaleidoskop weiß der Betrachter zwar nicht viel mehr über Kernspaltung und die Arbeitsabläufe in einem deutschen Atomkraftwerk. Aber er hat ein Gefühl für die Risiken, Gefahren und Grenzen technischer Kontrollsysteme im AKW- Ambiente entwickelt. Die Kernphysik lehrt, dass kritische Masse unter anderem von der Dichte und Form des Objektes abhängt. Das gilt auch für Danners Fotografien. Nur dass die kritische Reaktion im Auge des Betrachters ausgelöst wird.

© All rights reserved. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung GmbH, Frankfurt.
Courtesy of Frankfurter Allgemeine Archiv. 11.11 2013




Lothringer13 Halle, Munich
+ Critical Mass as part of the group show 'Little Boy’s Luminous Legacies (new, clear, atomic narratives)' curated by Dr. Daniel Bürkner and Jörg Koopmann

Artists' Books for Everything, Zentrum für Künstlerpublikationen, Weserburg, Bremen
Kunstquartier Bethanien, Berlin
Photo+Book lecture series, Leipzig Academy of Fine Arts (HGB)
Filter Photo Festival, Chicago
Becker Büttner Held, Berlin
Galerie Einheit 01, curated by Ala Glasner and Julia Rosenbaum, artist talk
with Silke Hohmann
Paris Photo, Book signing, Kehrer Publishers, Booth EE27
La Zona, Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst NGBK, Berlin
4. Fotofestival Mannheim-Ludwigshafen-Heidelberg, Print Media Academy, Heidelberg
Rathausgalerie Kunsthalle, München

2016 Kunstquartier Bethanien, Berlin

2016 Kunstquartier Bethanien, Berlin

2016 Kunstquartier Bethanien, Berlin

2013 Galerie Einheit 01

2013 Galerie Einheit 01, Artist talk with Silke Hohmann

2013 Galerie Einheit 01, Artist talk with Silke Hohmann


Deutscher Fotobuchpreis - Nominiert 2015 Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels
Stiftung Kunstfonds - Sonderfonds der VG Bildkunst für Verlagspublikationen
4. Fotofestival Mannheim-Ludwigshafen-Heidelberg: Previewer Award
4th International Photobook Festival, Kassel: Previewer Award