David Fathi: Wolfgang

During his lifetime, the celebrated physicist Wolfgang Ernst Pauli (1900-1958)—who postulated the existence of the neutrino in 1930 and was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1945 for breakthroughs in quantum theory—was also known as a jinx. According to colleagues, all Pauli had to do was enter a room and things went wrong: objects broke, machinery stopped working, and experiments failed. That curious phenomenon, dubbed the “Pauli Effect,” layered an unintended and secondary narrative onto the scientist’s legacy. For his recent project, Wolfgang, French artist David Fathi—who studied math and computer science and explores what separates fact from fiction—scoured historic photos in CERN’s online archives and selected images that referred to Pauli or hinted at his mysterious aura. And since most of the pictures that fascinated Fathi had no captions attached to them, he felt free to take liberties with them. In Wolfgang, Fathi pays homage to Pauli in intriguing images—some left untouched, some carefully Photoshopped— that at first seem austere, then weird, then amusing, then unsettling.