‘Fail Deadly is a concept in nuclear military strategy that encourages deterrence by guaranteeing an immediate, automatic, and overwhelming response to an attack. The term fail-deadly was coined as a contrast to fail-safe’.
Fail Deadly is set against the history of South Africa’s clandestine nuclear weapons program during apartheid. In the 1970 and 80’s South Africa built six atom bombs in complete secrecy. As the apartheid system crumbled the program was swiftly disbanded before the advent of democracy.
This project incorporates and references elements of photojournalism, image appropriation and landscape photography, but reflects critically on the limitations of all these strategies in terms of their use in artistic practice. Utilizing the aesthetics of research instead of its results, I construct my own narrative that allows me to expand on and re-contextualize the various facts and theories surrounding this history.
Referencing elements of surveillance and power, and by extension violence and fear, and by examining the act of censorship of both past and present histories in South Africa, I use absence, omission and cover-ups to convey these ideas that in turn allows me to reflect on my own identity within the South African historiography.
Exhibition Essay by Chad Rossouw