When the United States dropped nuclear bombs on Japan in 1945, for the first time in history, it was touted as a means to end the Second World War. Other countries developed their own nuclear bombs in subsequent decades to deter attacks from enemy nations, and the mushroom cloud that appeared after every successful nuclear test morphed into a symbol of world peace. The fragility of ‘world peace’ signified by the mushroom cloud stands well exposed today, once again, with the Russian aggression in Ukraine and the repeated threats of a nuclear attack.
Here, a tree is not a tree. It is an actor of demolition. And if a tree is not a tree, and a pipe is not a pipe, and war is not war, and death is not death, a mushroom cloud emerging from an ill-fated, ill-imagined, terrifying fission of radioactive elements is certainly not a tree. A necessary evil at worst, an idealized virtue at best. This is strategic ambiguity, this act of pretence, of falsifying harmlessness, of building illusions of benefit and no first use, when everything else, is proof against that.
Anupam Roy is a practicing visual artist, and an Assistant Professor at the Department of Art, Media and Performance, Shiv Nadar Institute of Eminence, Delhi-NCR. Anupam’s artistic practice emerges from a long-term engagement with the Indian hinterland and its peoples, and dissents against the dominating dystopian regimes. Roy is an active member of Communist party of India Marxist Leninist (Liberation) and part of a collective called Locust Review.