The European Commission recently decided on a climate label for nuclear energy and gas. It now classifies nuclear energy as sustainable. The recently published photo and text volume “10% – The photo archive of a nuclear research center concerning” also deals with atomic energy – more specifically the nuclear research center Karlsruhe (KfK) and its photo archive .

The photo on the cover of the book shows an irritating scene: a complex of buildings can be seen and a fire blazes from one part and a cloud of smoke rises. A few people stand in front of the building and watch the scene with interest. It is a concrete plant, explains Susanne Kriemann, artist and professor of artistic photography at Karlsruhe University of Design. She is one of the book’s co-editors. There is a simulation: “If a core melt occurs, how would the concrete behave?” Many images in the KfK image archive show simulations. The book is about: “How do you present nuclear research over a long period of years,” says Kriemann.

Man as God?

The project began in 2017 with a seminar at her university, where she wanted to sift through these archives of the nuclear research center with students. More than 200,000 recordings of the history of this nuclear research center are gathered there. Ten percent of them have been digitized – hence the name of the volume. Thanks to this digitization, one could “drop completely into this image archive”. Hundreds of photos are visible in the book, followed by 36 authors’ texts.

Watch the volume on nuclear research

Sociologist Martin Repohl wrote one of these texts, and he also chose images for the book. For him, the photos in the volume showed “what one might call the essence of nuclear power”. And in addition to the mastery of matter, it is also about “man using the laws of the universe to generate energy and thus become a kind of god himself”. This can also be seen, for example, in the architecture of nuclear power plants, which are reminiscent of cathedrals with the dome over the reactor.

Growing risk through progress narrative

In the volume, Susanne Kriemann writes of her anger at the ever-repeating narrative: “Nuclear power is clean, nuclear power is safe. The idea of ​​”faster, bigger, further, more electricity” also means “that we take much greater risks create for the world and at the same time create dangers for each of us”. She made a point of stressing “that the society of risk, the society of danger in which we live, will increase exponentially if we do not change this narrative of progress”.

Susanne Kriemann and Martin Repohl do not agree with the decision of the European Commission to classify nuclear energy as “green” in the future.

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