Trying to explain what can not be explained: ‘But we cannot speak about the atoms in ordinary language’ (Gert Jan Kocken, Motive Gallery)

‘Take your time’, the gallerist smiled, after I’d said that I almost felt like asking for a chair, so that I could sit in front of Fission and spend the rest of the afternoon studying it. The work by Gert Jan Kocken looks like a history book but with all the pages spread out. It’s the Dutch artist’s attempt to chart all the elements that led to the bombing of Hiroshima. The beauty of it? Of course he fails, no matter how hard he tries. Because that’s history: it’s not maths or physics. Fission is the central piece in an exhibition called But we cannot speak about the atoms in ordinary language, at Motive Gallery, Brussels (through May 11). The title is a quote from German physicist Werner Heisenberg. The gallery describes Kocken’s work as ‘an ongoing research into the remembrance and visual representation of pivotal episodes in world history’.

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