Art survives. It survived the burning of Rome, the Dark Ages, and World War II. And–when it comes–it will survive the apocalypse.
Or so believe Vitaliy and Elena Vasilieva. The Ukrainian artists have envisioned a future in which museums are the sole citadels remaining of a species that has wiped itself off the face of the Earth.
What caused the the apocalypse in the artists’ work isn’t specific. It could be environmental, nuclear, bacterial, or even religious. But how mankind has died out in Vitaliy and Elena’s “Apocalypse In Art” series isn’t the point. It’s what happens to the houses of art after its creators disappear that we’re supposed to think about.
In the works, the Guggenheim teeters upon the side of a cliff, superstorms teeming above the carcass of the Gehry-designed museum. The New Museum stands like a glowing lighthouse over wine dark seas that have swallowed the island of Manhattan in its entirety. And Oscar Niemeyer’s Niterói Contemporary Art Museum looks like a flying saucer that has been landed by alien archeologists on a long dead, salt-swept Earth. And so on.
It might all seem like bleak stuff, but in their artistic statement, Vitaliy and Elena claim that their series is meant in many ways to be hopeful, albeit morbidly so.
“The spirit of apocalypses holds sway over modern culture and is slowly infecting everything around us,” they ask. “How will this virus affect art? Will there still be a place for an art in society?”
Vitaliy and Elena’s implicit answer: art will survive, as it always has, even if there is nothing left of the society that bore it. The important thing is that humanity’s fixation upon the apocalypse–which they think is viewed in the modern world as an inevitability–does not paralyze us to stop designing and creating new things.
Even after we’re gone, Vitaliy and Elena imagine Earth as a dead world in which museums play time capsules to humanity’s all too ephemeral creative spirit. Because art survives, and it will be all that is left of us when we’re gone.
You can see more of Vitaliy and Elena Vasilieva’s work here