Destroyer of Worlds

Destroyer of Worlds Destroyer of Worlds Destroyer of Worlds Destroyer of Worlds

Markus Hoffmann’s new work ‘I am become death, the destroyer of worlds’ takes its title from the words that ran through American theoretical physicist (aka the ’father’ of the atomic bomb) J. Robert Oppenheimer’s mind as he watched the first detonation of a nuclear weapon on July 16, 1945. The line itself is an English translation of a verse from the Hindu sacred text, the Bhagavad-Gita, the original Sanskrit of which can be read in Hoffmann’s work. Hinduism has a non-linear concept of time where the great god is both a creator and destroyer. Oppenheimer’s translation of this quote is up for debate: the word that is translated as ‘death’ can also be interpreted as ‘time’. This ambiguity in translation itself gives more weight to the sentence—that time is a destroyer of worlds. That time is, or simply brings, death. Hoffmann’s work draws on this nuclear history by planting seeds of the Rainbow Eucalyptus that have been exposed to nuclear radiation for a period of one full moon cycle. The Rainbow Eucalyptus itself that looks otherworldly with its multicolored bark is an invasive neophyte that is highly competitive for light and water consumption thus extinguishing parts of the loca fauna. Australia is one of the biggest suppiers of uranium ore in the world. Moste of the mines and former nclear test in Australia where executed on native land. The seeds, three hundedred in total, are planted in a soil mixed with ground from Australia’s Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) that is standing on forerly native land. ANSTO is the site of Australias only nuclear reactor and the center for Australian nuclear science. In this way, Hoffmann connects and recontextualises nuclear histories with local postcolonial environmental racism associated trajectores.


© Markus Hoffmann