THE END IS NIGH
Disasters, catastrophes and fears that the world will come to an end are concerns which have always governed human behaviour and have found their expression in art and literature for centuries.
My work will aim to document, portray, present or re-enact the imminent end, the one you can’t see but our collective consciousness knows is on its way. A sense, a feeling, a knowledge of catastrophe, the apocalypse and perhaps more optimistically, a new beginning. I like the surreal and unknown territory of these themes, I see the sublime in the macabre. The beauty of the horror. The horror of what has come to pass, and what will be.
I’m fascinated by the destructiveness of our species and the brutality of our actions and existence, both physically, psychological and consciously.
The word apocalypse, from the Ancient Greek: meaning ‘un-covering’ is a disclosure of knowledge, i.e., a lifting of the veil or revelation, In religious contexts it is usually a disclosure of something hidden.
It is this unknown, the lifting of the veil, the ominous which fuels my imagination, in an attempt to investigate and understand (or come to terms with) my own fears and fascination.
And what is the use of Art today. is its function to represent the order, balance and security that we all desire? Or ought it not be like a fractured mirror of the disorder that we all know to be the fact.
The notion of the end of the world is one that has shaped my whole outlook on life, since I was a young girl transfixed by the new truths of deforestation, pollution and water shortages, and their impact on our fragile world.
At an age where I should have been carelessly enjoying my childhood, I could visualise with a snap of my fingers what had not been expected, yet what now seemed inevitable. In a flash: For a meteorite to hit us, for the flood rains to begin which would then never stop…
My generation grew up in the shadow not only of environmental over-exploitation, but also of doomful environmentalist rhetoric, which became deeply embedded in our minds as children, and has given our doom a sense of inevitability.
But is the end inevitable, and if so, is it always bad? A victory of evil over good? The end of the world, or just of the world as we know it?
Every generation in every culture has had its own version of the apocalypse, usually represented by war, famine revolution or natural disaster. In our generally satiated and complacent society that ha flourished in the western world many fear that we are sitting on a top of a time bomb, be it social, military or environmental.
The first quality which distinguishes the apocalypse phenomenon is an awareness of time and future-an idea that events are moving towards a final conclusion, and that nothing is happening without a purpose, Coupled with this is a period of change, disaster or progress. Changes can be social, economic or political: disasters tend to be unexpected: and progress undermines the stability of an old order and familiar patterns of life.
But conversely, those who witnessed floods, plagues, or wars could reassure themselves with the thought that the the old, sick world was being wiped out to be replaced by a newer, more perfect world. There is therefore sometimes optimism in the end of the world as we know it.
In our present-day millenarian moment there is among many the sense that there is a secret, and it is about to be revealed- the sense that there is a hidden next move in our current endgame, even if “the rest of us“ are not yet ready to know what it is. This knowledge covers over the facts of daily life like a veil, every event takes on an apocalyptic character, oversignified, meaning too much and too little at once-nothing escapes it’s force. This is a notion which American psycho the musical which was just staged at the Almeida deals with. The antihero Patrick Bateman ends the final scene with these poignant words;
“Maybe this schism, is just a symptom, of late capitalism, of saviours died and risen, of worlds that wouldn’t listen, to their own collapse, Am I just a version, of the end of days, Am I just an effect, of a modern phase, Am I just the end point, of the grand parade“
Back to the visual arts: Tim noble and sue webster construct astonishing illusions from rubbish. Their constructed paradises using corrupted and discarded materials contain within it an anarchic streak that is both a critique and a celebration of an apocalypse that is everywhere around us.
These are just some immediate examples of my many influences.
And now a word about my current chosen medium.
Working with the obsolete medium of film in my practice is a sort of moribund illustration of the approaching end. I feel that there is something beautifully alchemic about the process of analogue film.”The emulsion itself exists in a kind of liminal intermediary space (as Nick Morris says), tangible and permanent in itself but always a window into the virtual, the moment has gone and will never be repeated”.
“The end is here. Or almost here, at any rate; it amounts to the same thing, in the end”.
Echoes, contemporary art at the age of endless conclusions – edited Francesco Bonami – New York – Monacelli Press
1996.Apocalypse: beauty and horror in contemporary art – Norman Rosenthal, Michael Archer, Royal Academy of Arts (Great Britain) – 2000
Tacita Dean – Film – Tate Publishing – Tacita Dean edited by Nicholas Cullinan – 2011
Fin de Siecle – Art and Society in an Age of Uncertainty – West Shearer – 1994 – Overlook Press
Walter Benjamin – The work of Art in the age of mechanical reproduction – Penguin Books – 2008 – Translated by J. A Underwood.
Santiago Sierra – 7 Trabajos/7works – Lisson Gallery Publication – 2008
Terror and the sublime in art and critical theory: from Auschwitz to Hiroshima to September 11 – Ray Gene – Palgrave Macmillan – 2005
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1x8BVyodH0Y – Geoengineering And The Collapse Of Earth – 2014
http://www.partiallyexaminedlife.com/2012/05/10/immanuel-kant-in-zombieland/ – 2012 – Immanuel Kant in Zombieland
http://utopiaordystopia.com/2012/10/26/kants-utopian-daydream/ – Kant’s utopian daydream – Oct 26 (year unknown)
http://utopiaordystopia.com/2013/12/29/preparing-for-a-new-dark-age/ – Preparing for a new dark age – Dec 29 (Year unknown)
http://utopiaordystopia.com/2013/12/01/shedding-light-on-the-dark-enlightenment/ – Shedding Light on The Dark Enlightenment – 2013
American Psycho the musical – Almeida Theatre – 2014 – Book by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa; music and lyrics by Duncan Sheik. Based on the novel by Bret Easton Ellis.
1984 – Almeida Theatre – 2014 – George Orwell; a new adaptation created by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan
Nervemeter – conflicted Plutocrat (2006)
Dazed and Confused – survival guide – 2012
Utopia, Dystopia or Heterotopia? Three artistic responses to real time technologies – Tarbitten Sue – 2009
Chaos, catastrophe and nostalgia – Davies Titus – 2010
Awe and wakwardness, wonder and unease at the beginning of a new age – Alder Judith – 2010
British Journal of Photography – 2014 – Volume 161 – Issue NO 781
Elephant – Issue 17 – Winter 2013-14