In 1963 a delegation of the University of Chicago commissioned Henry Moore to create a sculpture to commemorate the site of the world’s first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction in 1942. He reacted hesitant, presumably of the ambivalent nature of the task – to control the nuclear chain reaction was the key to building the atomic bomb and the University of Chicago hosted some of the then leading research institutes. Suddenly in 1965 he presented a working model “Atom piece” to the not utterly amused university officials. The sculpture was said to symbolize the ambiguity of the atomic age and this was not exactly the University’s request. Furthermore, it took reference to a then popular poster from the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament – a montage of a human skull and a mushroom cloud. The historian Iain A. Boal later investigated the correspondence leading to the full-scale realization of the bronze-sculpture in 1966. He discovered that Henry Moore had had to change the title to the more convenient “Nuclear Energy” and afterwards also re-staged studio situations, where an elephant skull was positioned close to the working model, as if it was the original inspiration for the sculpture. The unwanted ambiguity turned into a formal nature study.
In my work, I wanted to pursue this interesting shift of meaning and create a revenant of Henry Moore’s sculpture; this time as a gnarly forest troll instead of the representative bronze sculpture. My reference was the Swedish debate on the resumption of nuclear energy and the recent decision of parliament, to extend and renew permissions for nuclear power plants. Partly the discussion was simply reduced to the question of carbon dioxide emissions and suddenly nuclear energy was presented as a “green energy”.