Metropolis Experiment, 2-17 June 2017 at AirSpace Projects, Marrickville.
Metropolis Experiment is part architectural model, part mad science: the whole city is a laboratory. But instead of shiny stainless and gleaming glassware in sterile white surrounds, we are presented with rusty tripods and salt crystals that creep up and over everything, corroding as they go. In Metropolis Experiment something has gone horribly wrong: it’s a ruined model city, a metaphor.
Metropolis Experiment is my third recent body of work which responds to the vivid prognostications of JG Ballard’s 1962 post-apocalyptic sci-fi novel, The Drowned World. View the first here and the second here.
What links these works is the image of the ruined city, an image Ballard conjured so evocatively in The Drowned World.
Thanks to its scale, Metropolis Experiment draws on the conceptual qualities of architectural models (as well as ruins) in order to make a point. As theorists are fond of pointing out, all ruins simultaneously embody both the present and the past.
Meanwhile, architectural models are inherently aspirational. They embody potential, physically manifested, but not quite realised. They represent the future. As a ruined model city (a combination of both) my artwork adds a third temporal stream: the future already devastated.
Metropolis Experiment is a premonition, a warning.
Post Premonitionism: What do you do when you have already seen the future? In 1962, JG Ballard’s book, The Drowned World, was a prescient warning; wilfully ignored.
Forty five years later, the causes may be different, but we seem to be spiralling into an ecological melt-down straight out of Ballard’s vision. What do you do when you have already seen the future? Apparently nothing.
In Post Premonitionism, fragile steel structures seem to mimic the skeletal remains of an abandoned city. Twisted, rusty and ephemeral, they eventually will disintegrate completely, vulnerable and helpless against nature’s inexorable power.
I have transposed Ballard’s premonition of The Drowned World on to the reality of Australia; salt takes the place of water in a continent characterised by drought.
Post Premonitionism was a site-specific installation at Groundfloor Gallery, Balmain in 2007. It was my second solo exhibition with the gallery.
Photos: Details 1, 2, 4 & 5, Richard Glover. Details 3, 6 & 7 & installation shots, Tracey Clement.