August 6, 2014
Apocalypse in Art: Iconic Architecture on The Brink of Destruction
The world’s most iconic museums meet their #doom in this apocalyptic series of images.
When Tom Cruise or Matt Damon trudge across the screen in stunning post-apocalyptic landscapes (really, it’s just Iceland), it’s only vaguely recognizable as the Earth most of us are used to. A be-cratered Pentagon here, a toppling, sand-covered Statue of Liberty there. The architectural relics these blockbusters highlight tend to be easily identifiable structures that show the audience just how different this future-Earth is from our own.
“Apocalypse in Art,” a series of photomontages by Ukrainian artists Vitaliy and Elena Vasilieva, renders this narrative device more stark and despondent than any recent Hollywood film has. The images, which are being exhibited in the collateral Biennale event “Time, Space, Existence” in Venice, place some of the world’s great museums into desolate, unidentifiable landscapes. Oscar Niemeyer’s Niterói Contemporary Art Museum is unceremoniously deposited in a snowy hinterland, while SANAA’s New Museum drifts out to sea. The Centre Pompidou receives perhaps the worst abuse, abandoned in the middle of the desert to be slowly buried by whiplashing sand.
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Our fascination with #doom “holds sway over modern culture and slowly infects everything around us,” the Vasilievas explain. “Today we are witnessing the collapse of the basic cultural patterns and mechanisms that determine[d] a spiritual and material civilization over the last century.” The critique takes aim at globalization’s homogenizing power, which has dulled everything—our buildings, movies, cultural artifacts—to the point that even our potential downfall isn’t interesting anymore.
“We are faced with the need to justify a new universalism that can take us beyond the personal worlds and beyond capitalist totality,” say the Vasilievas. “To make a difference we have to be an art, to live art, we have to turn our existing into art.”
For those not into the analysis, there’s sure to be a channel rerunning Planet of the Apes somewhere.