The monochrome works Mushroom Cloud, 1970/2018, and Damages Survivors, 1970/2018, reflect on the anti-nuclear sentiment and the controversial Vietnam War (1955–75), which was raging at the time of their making. Malani produced these photographs using collage processes at the photo club at the Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris in 1970 when she was undertaking a French academic scholarship. She used an Asahi Pentax SLR camera to take her own images, which she then superimposed with X-rays from a local hospital.

The juxtaposition highlights the visceral and volatile fragility of life at times of political upheaval and the vulnerability of peace. The period in Paris was an intensely fertile time for Malani. The universities were closed following the 1968 student demonstrations and she immersed herself in a self-managed program of encounters and lectures with filmmakers such as Jean-Luc Godard and Chris Marker and theorists and writers including Noam Chomsky, Claude Levi-Strauss, Louis Althusser, Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre.

Nalini Malani, born Karachi, British India (now Pakistan) 1946, Damaged Survivors, 1970-2018, Paris, digital print, 52.0 x 61.0 cm; Gift of an anonymous donor through the Art Gallery of South Australia Contemporary Collectors 2020, Art Gallery of South Australia, © Nalini Malani.