What does radiation look like? How can we envision something we can’t see? These questions are at the core of “Projeto Chernobyl” (2006-10), a series of radiographs produced by the Brazilian artist Alice Miceli.
To make the images, Ms. Miceli developed her own methods for capturing radiation on film (a process most often used for X-rays).
They’re on display at Americas Society, illuminated by light boxes in a dramatically darkened gallery. Outlines of trees or grass are sometimes recognizable, but mostly the images contain swirls and blurs and ghostly voids of gray. Some have white patches so bright, they seem poised to burn through: traces of “hot spots” of nuclear contamination, according to the artist.
For the viewer, there’s a gap between the abstract radiographs and what one knows they’re meant to show. It’s a haunting and fitting disjunction for trying to comprehend such severe, man-made devastation. We may not be able to fully picture it, but we know that it is real...