Discussion Questions: Chris Burden’s Atomic Alphabet

Chris Burden, The Atomic Alphabet, 1980; collection SFMOMA, Ruth and Moses Lasky Fund purchase; © Chris Burden

  1. Look at this artwork for a moment. Describe the various things you see.
  2. Observe the text. What do you notice about it? What relationships do each of the words have to the others? To the images?
  3. What do you know about the history of atomic warfare?
  4. Why do you think the artist selected these particular words and images? What message do you think the work conveys?
  5. If you were going to create your own alphabet about a historical or political topic, what topic would you choose, and why?

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