Jeff Bezos’s steed rears up on two legs. But he is calm, showcasing an awkward smile, seemingly unaware of his own overwhelming show of force. Elon Musk hunches over under the weight of his angel wings, with a flamethrower at the ready on his hip. Sergey Brin looks off into the distance, a latter-day Julius Caesar wearing Google Glass. Steve Jobs sits much like The Thinker, his hand poking at an iPhone rather than resting under his chin.
This is The Beginning of the End, the U.S premiere of Sebastian Errazuriz’s ironic sculptures of Silicon Valley’s finest. The show of this South American artist opens at New York’s Elizabeth Collective May 1 and runs through May 24.
Errazuriz’s works are meant to mock. He has very purposefully chosen to depict what he has dubbed the “new mythologies” by capturing tech leaders–and also Donald Trump–looking rarely better than awkward when rendered in the classical look of hand-carved marble. Mark Zuckerberg stares with a deadpan ignorance of any emotion at all in the sculpture, “The New Opium.” Whistleblower Edward Snowden closes his eyes on his deathbed, with a Christ-like gesture of defeat in “The Collapse of the Resistance.” Larry Page looks like Socrates admiring the views of a strip mall in “The Great Oracle.”
To amp up the irony, Errazuriz turned technology on the tech leaders. He used 3D scanners to map bits and pieces of real classical sculptures, and he used 3D printing to produce them into full-fledged, plastic pieces of art, which he polished by hand into convincing facsimiles for marble.
The works should be funny. And they are, through a certain lens. They look straight out of a plot from Silicon Valley, as if they were commissioned to stand in the front hall of Amazon or Google. But they also make an eerie commentary on how, in an unchecked regulatory environment, the United States’s tech barons have become modern day emperors. They have so much power over what we see and do that they almost feel born of another time, and another place, where we believed some people really were anointed by the gods to stand above us all, and so we just listened.