Curated by Pedro Alonzo
This May, Times Square Arts and the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists present Amnesia Atómica NYC, a collective effort to address nuclear threat. The public exposition on view for seven days in Times Square is centered around artist Pedro Reyes’s ZERO NUKES, a 30-foot-tall inflatable sculpture, which will function as a beacon to bring experts, political leaders, and engaged citizens together and drive conversations around the anti-nuclear movement.
ZERO NUKES focuses on the “zero” as a graphic, visual, and conceptual element common to all languages. The structure stands as a symbol of global unity for a single non-controversial cause: to avoid the destruction of life on earth.
“It is exactly because of what we are confronting around the world today that I created this piece. I’m hoping to provide an invitation for people who want to get engaged, learn from others, connect and create a safer future. I’m trying to provide a megaphone for the disparate voices committed to abolishing nuclear weapons. I’m trying to provide answers for those asking ‘what can I do?'”
— Pedro Reyes
The sculpture will serve as a central platform for a series of public programs and events designed to spotlight the voices of activists, scientists, and community organizations in the anti-nuclear field. Amnesia Atómica NYC will feature a two-day expo on May 19 and 20 offering hands-on activities, a VR experience, information booths, and merchandise. Public programs will be led by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and other experts from organizations in the field, such as the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, a global coalition focused on mobilizing civil society around the world to support the specific objective of prohibiting and eliminating nuclear weapons; The Tank, a Manhattan-based non-profit arts presenter and producer serving emerging artists; Games of Change, an organization that supports using games for social change; Global Zero an international movement dedicated to stopping the spread of nuclear weapons; and Union of Concerned Scientists, a science advocacy group dedicated to solving the world’s most pressing problems.
ZERO NUKES is the centerpiece of the New York City iteration of Amnesia Atómica, the traveling exposition commissioned by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, an organization that focuses on three main areas—nuclear risk, climate change, and disruptive technologies—and equips the public, policymakers, and scientists with the information needed to reduce man-made threats to our existence. Amnesia Atómica debuted in Mexico City in 2020, and in addition to Reyes’s inflatable mushroom cloud, featured locally curated dance performances, and presentations by leading dignitaries. The title, Amnesia Atómica, was designed to urge visitors to not forget or ignore the global issues at hand and engage first-hand with solutions-oriented thinking and strategies.
Supporters of the project include the Bancel Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, N Square, Abakanowicz Arts and Culture Charitable Foundation, David Rockefeller Fund, Lisa Tung and Spencer Glendon, Miner / Nagy Family, as well as The Prospect Hill Foundation.
Partner organizations dedicated to reducing nuclear weapons will host information sessions, public displays, and hands-on activities to encourage public engagement and mobilization. Participating organizations include: B(L)OOM; Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists; Das Bombe; Games for Change; Global Zero’s Bomb Squad; Horizon 2045; ICAN; NYCAN; PATH Collective; Reverse the Trend; #StopInvestingInDestruction; Union of Concerned Scientists; among others.
Thursday, May 19, 12pm-8pm
Friday, May 20, 12pm-8pm
ZERO NUKES: Performance Series
ZERO NUKES is a series of anti-nuclear performances curated and produced by Meghan Finn, Artistic Director of The Tank, a Manhattan-based non-profit arts presenter and producer serving emerging artists. The series is part of The Tank’s outdoor series, Open Air Tank. Emerging artists will perform storytelling, hip hop and spoken word in Times Square beneath the mushroom cloud. Musical performers include Miriam Pultro, Questa Music, Elyse Durand, Baba Israel and Grace Galu of Soul Inscribed, Sarah Cagianese of Frances Rose, and Doll Parts. Performance and spoken word artists include Gabriel G Torres, Paige Cowen, David Trevor Lawson, Kev Berry, Carol Maz, Ben Firke, Emma Gomez, and Hunter Gause.
Tuesday, May 17, 2-4 pm
Wednesday, May 18, 2-4pm
Thursday, May 19, 2-4pm
Friday, May 20, 2-4pm
Monday, May 23, 2-4pm
Artists Against the Bomb
A collection of urgent messages calling for universal nuclear disarmament. The campaign is an international effort by artists, writers and activists who, through words and pictures, call for a reduction of the world’s nuclear weapons down to zero. The effort is designed to support disarmament organizations across the globe.
A new participatory work by Pedro Reyes where 12,075 rocket shaped balloons——equivalent to the total estimated number of global nuclear weapons—will be handed out to the public throughout the event. The balloons are a limited edition artwork that will be given to participants upon posting an image of ZERO NUKES on social media with the hashtags #ZERONUKES and #AmnesiaAtómica or upon following a participating organization such as the Bulletin.
Daily Handout, 4pm
Virtual Reality: On the Morning You Wake (to the end of the world)
Games for Change will showcase “On the Morning You Wake (to the End of the World,” a virtual reality experience that uses innovative documentary storytelling and virtual production techniques to viscerally recreate the lived experiences of people of Hawaii, who, for 38 minutes, had to react during a false alert in January 2018. Learn more about the project here.
On the Morning You Wake (to the End of the World) Schedule:
Thursday, May 19, 12-8pm
Friday, May 20, 12-8pm
1560 Broadway, Suite 901
New York, NY 10036
Entrance at 165 W. 46th Street
The project will consist of a QR code leading to information that guides the public in how to get involved, including scripts with clear ideas on how to take action, reach your representative, and find organizations to follow. Join local and international efforts to reduce nuclear dangers, discuss current events with experts, connect with various education and advocacy organizations, and post your concerns to social media. You can even cast your vote to share what time you think it should be on the Bulletin’s iconic Doomsday Clock. Also, feel free to tag the following accounts on social media to get involved:
@TSQArts (Instagram, Twitter)
@BulletinOfTheAtomicScientists (Facebook, Instagram)
@ZeroNukes (Facebook, Instagram)
The kiosk operated by public art ambassadors will feature an assortment of information as well as merchandise available for the public to buy such as shirts, hats, and buttons. The graphics on the kiosk designed by Pedro Reyes will prominently display the ZERO NUKES imagery. Any net proceeds will go towards traveling the cloud in support of other disarmament-based events.
Merchandise Kiosk Schedule:
Open daily, 12-8pm
Frieze New York Art Fair
Amnesia Atómica will be presented in collaboration with Frieze New York from May 18-22. Frieze will feature two booths dedicated to Amnesia Atómica, one designated for a historical archive featuring contributions to the disarmament movement by artists and activists in the 20th century; and the other an installation of imagery and merchandise from the ZERO NUKES campaign. One of the two booths will also feature Pedro Reyes’ limited edition interactive artwork Stockpile. Learn more about the booths.
ABOUT PEDRO REYES
Reyes (b. 1972, Mexico City) lives and works in Mexico City. He has won international attention for large-scale projects that address current social and political issues. Through a varied practice utilizing sculpture, performance, video, and activism, Reyes explores the power of individual and collective organization to incite change through communication, creativity, happiness, and humor.He studied architecture at the Ibero-American University in Mexico City. Solo exhibitions have been held with Museum Tinguely, Basel, Switzerland (2020); SCAD, Georgia, USA (2019); Creative Time, New York, USA (2016); Dallas Contemporary, TX, USA (2016); La Tallera, Cuernavaca, Mexico (2016); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA, USA (2015); ICA, Miami, FL, USA (2014); The Power Plant, Toronto, Canada (2014); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, USA (2011); Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY, USA (2011); CCA Kitakyushu, Japan (2009); Bass Museum, Miami, FL, USA (2008;) and San Francisco Art Institute, CA, USA (2008). Reyes has participated in group exhibitions at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan (2015); The National Museum of XXI Century Arts (MAXXI), Rome (2015); Beijing Biennale, China (2014); Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK (2013); dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, Germany (2012); Liverpool Biennial, UK (2012); Gwangju Biennial, South Korea (2012); Lyon Biennale, France (2009); and the 50th Venice Biennale, Italy (2003). In Fall 2016, Reyes served as the inaugural Dasha Zhukova Distinguished Visiting Artist at MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST) at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
ABOUT PEDRO ALONZO
Pedro Alonzo is a Boston-based independent curator. He is currently an Adjunct Curator at Dallas Contemporary. Since 2006 he has specialized in producing exhibitions that transcend the boundaries of museum walls and spill out into the urban landscape, addressing audiences beyond the traditional museum public. In 2017 he formalized his practice by establishing A&C. At the ICA Boston, he curated Shepard Fairey’s 20-year survey, Supply, and Demand. For the MCA San Diego, he organized the group exhibition Viva la Revolución: A Dialogue with the Urban Landscape, which featured site-specific works inside the museum and throughout downtown San Diego. In 2015 Alonzo began to develop exhibitions designed to engage the public, starting with a citywide exhibition in Philadelphia, Open Source: Engaging Audiences in Public Space, followed by working with JR to place a gigantic image of a Mexican child named Kikito, overlooking the US/México border wall in Tecate. Since 2016 Alonzo has worked with The Trustees, Massachusetts’s largest conservation and preservation non-profit, to launch and curate the organization’s first Art and the Landscape initiative, resulting in site-specific commissions created by the artists: Sam Durant (2016), Jeppe Hein (2016), Alicja Kwade (2018), and Doug Aitken (2019). In 2019, Pedro Alonzo worked with Now + There as guest curator for Oscar Tuazon’s Growth Rings and in 2020 for Jose Dávila’s To Each Era Its Art. To Art, Its Freedom. for Central Wharf Park in Boston. The most recent project he developed at Dallas Contemporary was a major exhibition that brought together rarely seen works by Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara.
ABOUT THE BULLETIN OF THE ATOMIC SCIENTISTS
The Bulletin equips the public, policy makers and scientists with the information needed to reduce man-made threats to our existence. At its core, it is a media organization, publishing a free-access website and a bimonthly magazine. But it is much more. The Bulletin’s website, iconic Doomsday Clock, and regular events draw attention to three main areas: nuclear risk, climate change, and disruptive technologies. What connects these is a driving belief that because humans created them, we can control them. The Bulletin is an independent, nonprofit 501 c (3) organization founded by Manhattan Project scientists nearly 75 years ago. It gathers the most informed and influential thought leaders tracking man-made threats and brings innovative thinking to a global audience. The Bulletin applies intellectual rigor to the conversation and does not shrink from alarming truths.
The Bulletin’s iconic Doomsday Clock uses the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero) to convey threats to humanity and the planet. It is currently set at 100 seconds to midnight, the closest it’s ever been to midnight. The Clock is set every year by the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 11 Nobel laureates. The Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and disruptive technologies.