At the end of the world aliens blow up the White House (“Independence Day”); a meteor crashes into Paris against the backdrop of the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame’s famous gargoyles (“Armageddon”); and we see Big Ben and St. Paul’s in a central London left abandoned by zombie apocalypse (“28 Days Later”). Why does the world so often end in scenes like these in movies? When anything comes to an end we tend to look back at its past; when it’s the world that’s ending civilization is that something. Hollywood uses grand monuments—obvious, nationalistic symbols of identification in these examples—but more humble cultural productions can connect, and orient, us to the vast welter that is human history. In less troubled times we collect and preserve the parts that make up the sum of civilization. No doubt many of those parts and the collections that contain them have problematic histories. When faced with global catastrophe the drive to invest our attention to the sum as well as its parts, whether critically or admiringly, is perhaps greater than usual. This online exhibition indulges that drive by bringing together artworks by three artists—Oliver Laric, Louise Lawler, and Sara VanDerBeek—who have worked with various collections to incorporate historical sculpture into their own artworks.
Director, Metro Pictures