German artists Mia Grau and Andree Weissert make plates depicting nuclear power plants. We asked them why.
What’s the deal with these Atomic Plates?
MG: Andree and I were drunk in the kitchen one night, and started talking about these old kitschy plates with windmills on them. Windmills used to be factory buildings; now they’re considered idyllic. We wanted to send up the sentiment that everything was better ‘in the good old days’.
Are they based on actual power plants?
MG: Yes. The back of each plate lists the plant’s history and where it’s located.
MG: Hamm-Uentrop is a good one. “Start of construction: 1971. Power: 1987. Shutdown: 1988. Dismantling: not yet completed.” It sums up the madness.
What do you want people to think about when they see your plates?
MG: People used to buy these types of plates as souvenirs, but now they’re considered bourgeois. When people see them on my wall I can tell they’re thinking “My god, what’s up with her?” But then they take a closer look and the discussion begins. Why a nuclear power plant? Why does it look idyllic? Is it beautiful? Ugly? Funny? And are those little flowers around the picture? Or is that the radiation symbol?
This story features in Smith Journal volume 27.