Hey paarth, what about the atom bomb?

  • 2015
  • Hans van Houwelingen
  • video (colour, sound), duration 36:21 min.
  • duur / duration 00:36:21
  • Location not on view.
  • Acquired in 2016
  • Inventory number 3358
  • met steun van / with support of Mondriaan Fonds

The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 2800 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.

If you need specific information on this work or artist, remember that the Van Abbemuseum Library is at your disposal, or feel free to write to the library.


Seventy years after the Hiroshima bomb, Hans van Houwelingen made the video 'Hey paarth, what about the atom bomb?'. Robert Oppenheimer, the architect of the first atomic bomb, likened the immense destructive power of the bomb to Krishna’s appearance where he assumes the form of omnipotent destroyer of worlds in order to convince prince Arjuna to wage war.

Oppenheimer refers to the line in the Hindu epic ‘Bhagavad Gita’: "I am Time grown old to destroy the world, Embarked on the course of world annihilation". This announces the Kali Yuga, the ‘era of the demon’, that began in the wake of Arjuna's massive war. This epoch of degeneration and massacre includes our present age, where humanity is furthest removed from its ideal state. The setting of the Bhagavid Gita in a battlefield has been interpreted as an allegory for the ethical and moral struggles of the human life.

‘Hey paarth, what about the atom bomb?’ resituates the Bhagavad Gita within the social and political circumstances of 1945, that permitted the decision to drop the bomb on Hiroshima. Krishna fondly gave prince Arjuna his nickname Paarth.

- Exhibition text 2016 -

Does this page contain inaccurate information or language that you feel we should improve or change? We would like to hear from you.