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Tom Joyce, Reservoir I and II

Tom Joyce, Reservoir I and II, 2013-2015

Tom Joyce, Dismantled Nuclear Warhead Parts

Dismantled Nuclear Warhead Parts donated by the US Department of Energy & Russia's Arzimas 16. Tom Joyce Studio archive © 1994
photo courtesy of the Artist and Gerald Peters Contemporary

Tom Joyce
born 1956 Tulsa, Oklahoma; lives in Santa Fe
Reservoir I and Reservoir II
cast iron, 23 carat gold leaf
18 x 11 x 8 ½ in. and 12 x 12 ½ x 8 in.
courtesy of the Artist and Gerald Peters Contemporary, © 2020 Tom Joyce

In 1992 Tom Joyce received over 60 dismantled nuclear weapon parts from the United States and Russia that were originally created for use on nuclear submarines. Joyce had planned on using the materials for a project commissioned by the World Centre for the United Nations which included a museum to be constructed in San Francisco. The museum and the project were never realized due to controversies surrounding the UN’s effectiveness in its peacekeeping effort.

After laying in wait for 20 years, Joyce began working with the materials again. He retrieved the gold cladding from the nose cones on the warheads and created gold leaf for the sculptures which were created from molten alloy of steel fillings and project remnants made in the studio between 1977 and 2001. Gold is the only effective barrier known to shield the electronic trigger of the warheads from the electromagnetic pulse generated by an atomic blast. The gold’s shielding properties makes a “second strike”, and the subsequent annihilation of all nearby life possible.