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Bohr's Doubt (from the series Critical Mass)

Bohr's Doubt (from the series Critical Mass)

Artist: Meridel Rubenstein (American, born 1948)
Subject Matter: Jerry R. West (American, born 1933)
Date: 1990
Medium: platinum/palladium photographs
Dimensions:
Steel support: 80 x 66 x 1 3/4 in. (203.2 x 167.6 x 4.4 cm)
Classification: Photograph
Credit Line: Museum purchase with funds from Ann and Joel Berson, 2012
Keywords and Associated Locations:
Object number: 2012.5
Description
Bohr’s Doubt is from Meridel Rubenstein’s series Critical Mass, which in the artist’s words looks at “the worlds of scientists and Native Americans as they intersected at the home of Edith Warner during the making of the first atomic bomb in 1944 in Los Alamos, New Mexico.” The artwork consists of 11 photographs on a steel backing with a plexiglas covering. Words such as “Bohr’s doubt,” “science,” “paradox’ and “uncertainty principle” are stamped into the steel. The title refers to Niel Bohrs, who in 1913 developed an early model of a hydrogen bomb, one that ultimately failed because Bohr misconceived of the electron moving circularly around the nucleus. Hence the “doubt” in the title. Nonetheless, Bohr’s is regarded as the theoretical precursor to what would become the first atomic bomb. “Doubt” might also refer to the sense of doubt and guilt felt by many atomic scientists after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Few scientists understood the larger picture of what their research would yield and felt great remorse at the scope of death caused by science. Images include the juxtaposition of flight by a fighter jet and birds; a figure lying in the landscape with the burden of a rock on his head (figure is artist Jerry West); a jail cell; Pueblo architecture; and a child carrying a snake to represent a second temptation.
Not on view
Publication and Exhibition History: 1993: Critical Mass, traveling show (see NMMoA exhibition records)