The sight of a 30ft-tall mushroom cloud rising over Times Square might be especially ominous right now, with the threat of nuclear war having become disquietingly more real since Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered his army to invade Ukraine. For artist Pedro Reyes, commissioned to create the inflatable sculpture ZERO NUKES (2020) by the non-profit Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, making distant and abstract nuclear risks more tangible was the entire point.
“Nobody wins a nuclear war,” Reyes says. “We all care about the environment, we all care about social justice, but we should all care about this issue, too, because if nuclear war comes there’s no environment to save, there will be no society to save—it’s a universal issue.”
The sculpture forms the centrepiece and backdrop for a series of events and performances about nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, disruptive technology and climate change that continues through 24 May, in partnership with Times Square Arts. Two stands at Frieze New York (18-22 May) are also devoted to the project: one holds part of a new participatory piece by Reyes in which nearly 13,000 missile-shaped balloons (one for each nuclear warhead in existence) are handed out to visitors, the other features artworks and ephemera from past nuclear protest movements.
- Amnesia Atómica NYC: ZERO NUKES, Times Square, until 24 May