Well, Let’s Just Ba-Bomb the Mushroom Kingdom, Too

Well, Let’s Just Ba-Bomb the Mushroom Kingdom, Too, combines traditional woodblock printing techniques and contemporary video-game imagery in a visual comment on the unfortunate nature of wartime and terrorist bombing. I produced eighteen prints designed for display in a rectangular pattern on a wall. Each print contains a stylized, cartoon-like image of a bomb that appears in the Super Mario Brothers video game. Added to each print is the name of one real-world city that suffered a bombing (e.g., Oklahoma and Hiroshima). The title of the piece, like the image of the bomb, alludes to the video game. In the game, the Mario Brothers attempt to rescue a princess from the cute and peaceful Mushroom Kingdom, which they would never consider bombing because a princess lives there. The title is sarcastic, for it would not be prudent to resort to Ba-Bomb.

This piece is my response to a realization that all bombs—whether dropped from a plane or hidden in car—shatter bodies and destroy property and that the horrors of the tactic cannot be masked and should not be glorified by marketing slogans such as “shock and awe.”1 The current practice of marketing war (and, hence, marketing bombing) offends. It shocks the sensibilities and lends itself to a response in the Surrealist and Dadaist tradition: “épatez les bourgeoisie.”

There is no attempt in the piece to identify specific nations or conflicts, to organize them geographically or chronologically, or to distinguish military or terrorist bombings. These differences are important in certain respects, but I want the viewer to consider how all bombings are alike—they destroy, and there is always collateral damage. This is emphasized by the repetition and essential sameness of each print. The cities differ, but the rest is the same. Like Mario Brothers, bombing is a game, albeit a deadly game, and should not be played. Ironically, in the Mario Brothers game only the bad guys drop ba-bombs. The protagonists, Mario and Luigi, avoid them.

The allusion to the game will be missed by many, and this is a weakness of the piece, but I have kept the reference because there is something to learn from the peaceful victory that can be achieved in the video game, and those familiar with it will benefit from the connection. Players can win the game without ever dropping a bomb or firing a shot; if they avoid attack, their adversaries eventually self-destruct.


  • Imprint of War: Responses in Print. University Gallery, Frick Fine Arts, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh PA10/31/11-12/5/11
Well, Lets Ba-Bomb the Mushroom Kingdom, Too
Well, Lets Ba-Bomb the Mushroom Kingdom, Too