relics, 2006

Not on Viewexpand_more

In the prints from the “Black Dada” portfolio (Mia 2018.123.4.1-.14), German artist and musician Thomas Zipp confronts a dark chapter in world history using photomontage, a collage technique first developed by avant-garde artists associated with the anti-establishment European Dada movement of the 1910s and 1920s. Zipp began each composition with an existing photograph of Otto Hahn, a German scientist who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1944 for his pioneering work in nuclear fission, which enabled the development of the atomic bomb. More than 120,000 people died when the United States military dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II (1939–1945).

Zipp then altered Hahn’s portrait by introducing additional photographic images and some hand-drawn passages, creating a deep web of associations regarding the social and political consequences of this historic scientific advancement. Several prints in the series, such as o.4 and snow, allude to the horrific after-effects of atomic tests in the South Pacific. In ffw, which stands for “fast-forward,” X-ray photographs of radioactivity are superimposed over an image of Hahn. For the final print in the portfolio, Zipp portrays Hahn partially shrouded by fragments text from the Aeneid, Virgil’s ancient epic poem concerning the founding of Rome by Aeneus, whose fate was governed both by free will and destiny. The image symbolizes the eclipsing of Hahn’s perceived scientific progress by unanticipated outcomes and the inevitable deterioration of society.

Artist Life
born 1966
Accession Number
William P. Kosmas, London, England (d. 2017); Estate of William P. Kosmas, Minneapolis; given to MIA, 2018.
Curator Approved

This record has been reviewed by our curatorial staff but may be incomplete. These records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email

Does something look wrong with this image? Let us know

No Image Available