Apocalypse (not right) Now
If you just took a seat in your most comfy couch – you know, the one with the ripped edge on the lefthand side, the torn leather where the dog used to sleep and last year’s late night coffee mark – poured out a cup of tea and became mentally prepared to read another one of my blog posts, then I congratulate you! Congratulations – first of all on your good taste in choosing this read – secondly, because you are still alive and kicking in the year that was never supposed to be: 2013!
“In your face Mayas!”, the whole world thought when the 21st of December turned into the 22 and we could all breathe peacefully again as the sun rose on that cold winter morning. The Apocalypse didn’t come crashing down on us, mountains didn’t split and we didn’t all end up drifting in space somewhere between the billionth star and Jupiter. Instead your husband snored too loudly all through the first, official winter night and the next morning – on the day after what was supposed to go down as doomsday – your alarm rang too soon like it always does. The end of the world might have been a perfect – yet slightly radical – solution to many sleepless nights, as a consequence of the marital knod you tied many years ago, but the Gods had other plans! They decided not to listen to the ancient folk who enjoyed offering them human heads as culinary delights on a plate of wild dancing, and made us sleep through another night. I guess those old, white bearded men drifting away on the clouds, drinking honey flavoured refreshments and gossiping about over six billion people, had more developed taste buds than the Mayas presumed and they didn’t exactly have a taste for the human brain and blood that was sacrificed in their name… They did fancy the occasional scandal though and decided to scare us all a little with forecasting the end of this blue globe of ours.
Believers or non-believers, whomever you may be, we all to took joy in getting a little carried away in imagining “the end”. Some of us found solace in faith and literally prayed their lives away as the final “amen” kept on coming closer; others thought it was better to end the world as it started, with a “bang”, and decided to turn to the bottle while sexy dancing (or what ever comes close to that) to some upbeat tunes; and less fiathful or, on the other hand, sexy, spirtis had the need to express themselves through art. And that’s exactly how the famous doomsday scenario turned out to be far less destructive than expected.
Creatives and creators of all kind took their chances on changing something scary into something funny; transforming something frightening into something beautiful. The feared end of the world gave birth to exquisite and eye-opening artwork.
Many filmmakers found the necessary inspiration to make horrific scenarios come to live, doomsday fantasies moved a lot of pens to turn a blanc page into an apocalyptic one and the world’s end became the key note to many harmonies, musically moving us to our final tunes. Imagining what frightens us, fantasizing about how it could all come to a spectaculor end is an easy message to bring across. It’s as simple as pie to fill people’s hearts with fear. What’s harder is to bring them a message of hope or expose them the hard face of reality.
Still, some artists managed to open their minds and look at the Mayas’ doomsday scenario from a different point of view. They created a hopeful story of a new beginning and managed to make us smile when we were all a little scared of the approaching end. Or, on the contrary of a happy story, artists took on the part of the bogeyman and confronted us with the harsh truth: that we might just hold the end of this world in our own hands. That we might just be the ones, not only preaching the Apocalypse, but finally orchestrating it as well. That we might just be our own end…
Survival of the fittest: Helter ShelterMany young designers put their inventive minds to work and thought (and continue to think) of innovative ways to enable survival in case this world might end. Designer/artist Kevin Cyr, for example, came up with a so called “Camper Kart” and “Camper Bike” that feature as mobile shelters in this whimsical world. His ideas are based on the need for mobility, concealment and protectionism in today’s fragile society. His “House in the woods” symbolizes a safe haven for a future worst-case scenario. Cyr’s shelters express optimistic considerations in rough times and a strong philosophy of self-preservation.
End Times Artists are the ones who have the guts to confront us with the face of reality and when that face stares at us in the image of a crying child we can not help but remain moved and silent for a moment. American photographer Jill Greenberg uses the distress of children as an allegory for the deepest fears of the human species as a whole. She refers to the vocabulary of Christian millennialism, conspiracy theory culture and doomsday environmentalism to title her work. With “End Times” Greenberg sees the compelling children’s images as a medium to extract difficult conversation about the current American moment. The ultra-emotional images are a literal zoom on society’s problems today: the too close for comfort pictures are a metaphor for a world in pain, a helpless society crying for salvation.
BIG BANG BIG BOOM Still, some artists managed to open their minds and look at the Mayas’ doomsday scenario from a different point of view. They created a hopeful story of a new beginning and managed to make us smile when we were all a little scared of the approaching end. Or, on the contrary of a happy story, artists took on the part of the bogeyman and confronted us with the harsh truth: that we might just hold the end of this world in our own hands. That we might just be the ones, not only preaching the Apocalypse, but finally orchestrating it as well. That we might just be our own end…