Bang! We’re All Dead! The Places of Nuclear Fear in 1980s America will investigate public art in American cities born of a culture of nuclear fear between 1979 and 1991, when artists such as Michael Mazur, Tom Herzberg, Alan Gussow, George Nakashima, and Ed Eisenberg responded to the compromised personal security brought about by nuclear weaponry and nuclear energy. Across five case studies, this manuscript will move between the gallery and the street, the bomb and the reactor, and the home front and the global military theater. Contextualized by Cold War anxieties, atomic end-of-the-world fantasies, Reagan-era defense spending increases, and public health concerns, this archival study will recuperate the works of overlooked artists as central to an understudied facet of contemporary American experience.
Andrew Wasserman is an assistant professor of art and architectural history at Louisiana Tech University. His research considers an expanded class of contemporary public art in American cities, examining place-making practices by artists and institutions. He is currently completing a manuscript examining cartographic public art projects in Manhattan from 1960 to the present. His writing has appeared in Public Art Dialogue, PUBLIC, the Journal of Curatorial Studies, and Theorizing Visual Culture: Writing Through the Discipline (Routledge, 2012).