bringing terror home, "Peace by Piece"

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Damien Davis Bear and Cover 2004 paper bears, desk [installation view]


How do we address the horror of Hiroshima and Nagasaki today, sixty years after the fact? The artist Hiroshi Sunairi, a native of Hiroshima, asked his students at New York University this question when he taught a course one year ago entitled "Peace by Piece." Some of their answers are currently assembled downtown in Tribeca's Debrosses Gallery.

My own most profound memory of atomic war is not the initial report of my country's annihilation of these two great cities but rather the routine, regulary-scheduled school rehearsals for an imagined defense against the oh-so-likely employment of these same bombs by a former ally suddenly turned satanic enemy. Unlike the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we were always able to come out from under our desks. To this day the people of the United States remain the only ones who have ever used these insane weapons against another.

Although he is far too young to have ever experienced the terror of The Bomb, or even the fear of its terror, Damien Davis manages to describe it in this simple, powerful installation. The small folded pieces of paper which appear at the bottom left in the picture are stray origami cranes folded by the students as part of the political mobilization of the project.

The exhibition will be accompanied by the artists and their professor on a flight to Hiroshima this summer, where it will be installed from August 13 through August 20 at the old Bank of Japan building, Hiroshima Branch, one of the few buildings which survived the 1945 bombing.