In 2011, photographer Colby Vincent Edwards (in collaboration with William Franevsky and Jarrett Scherff) created The 8th Day, an incredible exhibition that “documents” a post-apocalyptic future. In addition to black and white photography, the artists designed costumes made of leather, cloth, feathers, twine, and bone. Dusty, ripped, and layered, the outfits integrate brilliantly with the wasted environment. The weapons the models carry seem ancient, but upon closer inspection betray the remnants of the present-day world: shattered metal and protruding nails.
The photographs themselves are stark and intimate, composed of “high contrasts with rich blacks, and blank white collodion skies” (Source). We see human figures traversing barren plains, salvaging debris, and collapsing in what could be sorrow, exhaustion, or near-death. With their faces masked, the characters’ physical anonymity makes it possible to imagine oneself in their place, navigating the devastated world. Here, the artists have drawn on the appeal of our childhood fantasies, but have troubled them by infusing such imaginative stories with the tragedy and finality of a cataclysmic event. Step back from the beautiful details and you perceive the vast emptiness of the world.
Even though the exhibition is a few years old, the images are still intensely relevant. Depictions of post-apocalyptic worlds weigh heavily on our social consciousness. In this way, The 8th Day captivates us while making us quietly thankful that such a universe exists only in our imaginations — for now. Visit their Tumblr page for a fuller narrative of these stunning photographs. You can view the rest of Edwards’ work here.
Shi Jinsong combines the beauty of machine and nature in his latest sculptures. Through the cold metals sheets and the deadly weaponry attached to the baby carriage, the artist meticulously assembled deadly ride is just one of the few pieces in exhibition at the Palazzo Reale in Milan, Italy.
The installations of Carly Fisher may at first appear to be trash strewn galleries. However, closer inspection reveals that none of the items are actual garbage. Rather, Fisher carefully recreates litter from little more than paper and glue. The meticulous attention she gives to sculpting trash replicas, so to say, may seem odd. However, the familiar international name brands dotting the gallery floor raise the question: do these corporations possibly give the same meticulous attention to the branding of litter as Fischer? As one of her gallery statements puts it, “Perhaps there is a marketing edge to trash?”
The dark paintings of Martin Wittfooth depict a frightening dystopia that could be our reality if we are not careful. The world he shows us is a grim and desolate one, void of humans, but full of casualties that our species could easily cause. We see a world of animals suffering from our actions and learning to adapt to their new environment for survival. His paintings are a stark reminder of what could happen if we aren’t aware of, and don’t cease the damage we are causing.
Wolves creep around in a burning wasteland, probably looking for food to eat, or some substance somewhere. Bears tip over old water jugs, or some sort of relic from a time past. Tigers are sprawled out over the hood of a rusty car, surrounded by flowers sprouting out of the trunk. The beak of an albatross is stuffed full of trash, the bird unaware that his chosen items are harmful, and not healthy. The sight of these animals that we (should) cherish trying to survive in an undesirable place should bring out the emotions in us that Wittfooth wants.
Everywhere and at all times, we’ve been busy making things in our present for the simple purpose of communicating something, and thus sending messages into our future. What a peculiar habit. We’re the only species inhabiting this planet that routinely behaves this way, and there’s something really beautiful and profound about that. (Source)
His paintings full of the consequences of climate change, over use, excess pollution and unnecessary producing and consumption may seem dramatic, but are actually just a glimpse into a future that could happen, sooner than we think. Wittfooth paints with a sense of urgency; with a need to tell people things could be getting quite bad, quite quickly. He goes on:
I often think about what the psychedelic thinker Terence McKenna called “The Archaic Revival”: a yearning to look into the past to see meaning, connection, the sacred, looking back at us. I need those reminders sometimes, when the current state of human affairs seems dire and in need of a new perspective. (Source)
We’ve covered Kris Kuksi’s Churchtanks series in the past, which invoked religion alongside symbols of modern warfare to create a curious blend of spirituality and the profane. “Ascension of Eos” is a more recent work, taking the exploration of larger than life mythos intersecting with the mortal coil.
Eos, the goddess of dawn in Greek mythology, or perhaps a statue of Eos rises up from a sea of humans. She’s being worshipped or built — or perhaps the two are one in the same. The humans around her are in a frenzy — some are tangled together in frantic sex, others are being crushed by wheels and impaled by arrows. Her congregation’s agony can just as easily be interpreted as divine ecstasy, and painted with a dark patine, the entire tableau seems truly gothic.
“I get inspired by the industrial world, all the rigidity of machinery, the network of pipes, wires, refineries, etc.,” says Kuksi. “Then I join that with an opposite of flowing graceful, harmonious, and pleasing design of the baroque and rococo.”
Beautiful, dark, and mysterious, Kuksi’s work contains tons of detail. It’s created through mixed media assemblage, which adds texture and physicality to the piece. At more than four and a half feet tall and three and a half feet wide, it looks almost like an altar or a memorial. (h/t Dark Silence in Suburbia)