Andreas Mühe. Hagiography Biorobotica

Andreas Mühe

‘I don't believe in heroism. I know it’s easy and I’ve learned that it can be murderous.’ (Albert Camus, The Plague)

When the Chernobyl nuclear disaster occurred in 1986, thousands of ‘human liquidators’ were sent to the reactor site. Because the machines that had been previously deployed were unable to withstand the heat and radiation, the men, also referred to as ‘biorobots’, were sent in wearing protective gear that looked like something straight out of a science fiction story.

In his Biorobots series, artist Andreas Mühe photographs the unidentified men from Chernobyl as anonymous historical figures. In doing so, he presents the narrative construct of state-defined heroism, which considers the individual hero a myth and, as Camus’s protagonist says, ‘I don’t believe in heroism’. Here, instead of the single strong man, the collective is presented as a far more reliable form.

The last image in the series depicts an empty platform. Whether the biorobot left of his own volition or was taken away remains open.