Arts & Entertainment

Inflatable mushroom cloud in heart of Big Apple dramatizes nuclear threat

By Jorge Fuentelsaz

New York, May 17 (EFE).- An inflatable sculpture of a mushroom cloud was filled with air Tuesday in New York’s Times Square as part of an exposition aimed at building support for the elimination of nuclear weapons.

Mexican artist Pedro Reyes, creator of the 30 ft (9 m) tall ZERO NUKES sculpture, said during the inauguration of the week-long event that humanity faces a choice between prohibiting nuclear weapons and “ceasing to exist.”

“When we began to work (in 2019), people saw us as a little crazy, as if it were a thing of the past,” he told Efe. “Unfortunately, 13,000 atomic weapons still exist in the world and currently the governments that have those nuclear weapons are investing trillions of dollars in new armaments.”

The towering white figure is emblazoned with the ZERO NUKES slogan in the languages of the nine nuclear-armed countries: the United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France, Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea.

“With the political context of today, which is extremely volatile, the risk of a mistake, an accident, or a bad decision, which – moreover – belongs to a handful of people, could have consequences that are no more and no less than the end of life on Earth,” Reyes said.

Disarmament, he said, “is not going to come from the governments that have nuclear weapons.”

“It will come only if there is pressure from society, if we inform ourselves and express our indignation and our rejections of the most cruel and most damaging invention of the human being” the artist said.

One of the leading organizations advocating disarmament, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), took part in Tuesday’s event on Times Square.

ICAN’s executive director, Beatrice Fihn, said that the Russian invasion of Ukraine made it plain that the people of the world are hostage to the “whims” of the small groups of decision-makers in the nuclear armed nations.

Also present was Japanese entrepreneur Mitchie Takeuchi, the granddaughter of a physician who tended victims of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

Takeuchi produced and appeared in a documentary, “The Vow of Hiroshima,” which focuses on her friendship with Setsuko Thurlow, now 90, who was pulled alive from a school set ablaze by the dropping of the bomb on Aug. 6, 1945.

Having grown up in the shadow of a mushroom cloud, Takeuchi said she feels a responsibility to share “the story of profound human suffering.” EFE jfu/dr

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