Fatal Act concerns the ongoing legacy of atomic warfare and testing in the United States, spanning histories of conflict, toxicity, and the images made to celebrate or contest this legacy.
The project takes its bearings from an unlikely correspondence between Claude Eatherly, the U.S. Air Force pilot whose "all clear" weather report precipitated the bombing of Hiroshima and whose botched robberies after the war landed him in and out of jail and psychiatric care, and Günther Anders, the German anti-nuclear activist and theorist who fixated on technology's capacity to outpace any human intention. More particularly, Fatal Act takes shape around a film that never came to be: Bob Hope’s attempted biopic of the life and crimes of Eatherly, a film that Anders warned stridently against, arguing that it would falsify the most “fatal act” of the century.
The exhibition extends from Anders’s rejection of the unmade film to articulate a broader refusal of the iconic images and atomic aesthetics that shaped public memory and sought to nullify revolt against nuclear proliferation, pollution, and the exploitation of indigenous land. The works that comprise Fatal Act
develop provisional and analogical forms that seek to grapple with these histories, tracing paths between prop closets and desert test sites, casinos and waterfalls, Foley studios and Geiger counters, Hollywood sets and military hospitals.
Fatal Act includes the premiere of three moving image works by 13BC – Straight Flush (2019), Act 1 (2019), and When Horses Were Coconuts (2019) – as well as Corpse Cleaner (2016/19), new piano music by Jason Moran, and the installation Good Times.
13BC is a research and production collective for moving images, founded and led by Evan Calder Williams, Lucy Raven, and Vic Brooks.
The exhibition Fatal Act is curated by Nicola Lees with Eva Cilman and co-commissioned by 80 Washington Square East gallery and the Rosenkranz Foundation, with additional support from La Biennale de Montréal, and the Center for Land Use Interpretation