The International Shadows Project
Note by Karl Young

The International Shadows Project is a memorial to those who died in the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and a protest against any other use of nuclear weapons. Many shows, performances, demonstrations, and actions bring in problems related to the manufacture and use of nuclear arms and the infrastructure and cognate industries which make them possible. The name comes from the faint traces of vaporized victims left on nearby surfaces such as walls and sidewalks.

As the ultimate art form of the Cold War, it seems appropriate that some of the largest and most important Mail Art shows focused on the central Cold War tool, emblem, and driving force. I curated and co-curated a number of them and participated in many others.

This section links to the documentation of several of the shows I curated or took part in setting up. I'm not going to write extensively about the Project in this issue of Big Bridge for several reasons. One important complex of reasons is that I want to do so in another installment where I will also be discuss publications by and projects with Japanese poets. A strictly American response to Hiroshima, or even an international response that does not include significant portions of Japanese participants and their culture is irrelevant. With increase in sales of nuclear materials and the destruction or collapse of safegurards against nuclear weapons, coupled with the increase in the use of nuclear fuel, the number and composition of future responses may increase considerably.

Most Shadows Projects ceased after the mid late 1990s, in part because of loss of energy in the mail art network, and to a larger extent because many people thought that the nuclear threat was over. In the early days of 2007, with nuclear proliferation poised to make giant leaps forward, Shadows Projects may become more important once again. Whatever your thoughts are on nuclear war, the Shadows Project included some of the most important and interesting Mail Art shows for several decades.

Click here to go to a survey (with extensive samples) of International Shadows Projects from 1988 to 1996.

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