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Wandering artist explores CERN

French graphic novelist Benjamin Reiss took advantage of a stay in the Pays de Gex to visit the ISOLDE facility and soak up the world of science


When Benjamin Reiss visited CERN’s ISOLDE, he was inspired by the facility’s ability to fulfil the medieval alchemists’ dream of changing one element into another. He left this drawing as a souvenir of his visit. (Image: CERN)

In Einstein’s words: “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.” And faced with the mysteries of the universe that CERN strives to explain, the dichotomy between science and art sometimes becomes blurred. The spontaneous visit to CERN by French artist Benjamin Reiss once again highlighted this phenomenon.

In spring 2022, the graphic novelist – a graduate of the Émile Cohl art school in Lyon – visited the ISOLDE facility during his stint as artist-in-residence at the Les Arts Frontières bookshop in Ferney-Voltaire. Visiting CERN for the first time, Reiss took the opportunity to immerse himself in the world of science, which has already inspired so many artists. “I had the impression that I was entering the workshop of a contemporary installation artist, with the clutter of cables and metal structures on one hand, and, on the other, passionate, dedicated people who are motivated by their research,” explains Reiss.

For him, science and art are particularly intertwined in works of science fiction, where the world of science, which is his passion, is depicted and magnified. That passion for science led Reiss to leave his mark at CERN, in the form of a sketch on the isotopes table in the ISOLDE building.