Staring into a post-apocalyptic world
Art exhibit presents what the end of the earth may look like
A single flag, declaring “The power is on,” flaps in the wind. A traveling storyteller can be seen in the distance, hanging a banner advertising his oral rendition of “Fahrenheit 451.” Warlords watch over their territories as civilization slowly tries to recover from the catastrophe of 2024.
The new art exhibit, “Ice Next Time,” at The Barrick Museum tells the story of a post-apocalyptic world through displays that are presented as historical artifacts, each with its own unique story.
Artist and professor Stephen Hendee said that his exhibit portrays a return to basic human interactions lost in today’s Internet-driven society.
“Our interconnected, digital world gives us little time to reflect, and I think that it is a secret wish fulfillment that everything would fall apart,” Hendee said.
A pamphlet available at the museum details the science fiction driving the work.
The sun projected high frequency particles that caused worldwide power disruptions. The global economy crashed and billions died in the aftermath. Every piece in the exhibit represents different aspects of the story, Hendee said, from a sewn together battle flag to a cane shaped like a shotgun.
“I started building the narrative around the traditional cycles of how people deal with one another. Our history is not black and white. It is gray,” Hendee said. “There is always an interesting give and take that is occurring and I don’t think that would change at the end of the world.”
The exhibit tries to blur the line between real-life artifacts and those that have yet to come. Art pieces have realistic wear and tear, like the menacing full-body costume “Boogeyman,” complete with a burlap executioner hood. Jordan Payne, a former art student of Hendee’s, admired the use of the museum space to capture the idea of looking at relics from a time past.
“The rest of the museum is from other cultures and this is another examination of what our culture will be,” Payne said. “Just by looking at these artifacts you can construct an idea of what happened.”
Placards placed next to each piece describe what scientists believed the use for each piece might have been at the time. A silver baseball bat supposedly used by the matriarch of Chicago stood out for UNLV alum Theresa Hermanny.
“I can actually envision, pretty graphically, someone’s face being broken by that thing,” Hermanny said.
The “realistically imagined” future reminded part-time professor Miguel Rodriguez of some of his favorite sci-fi films, including “The Road,” which is being shown in the museum in conjunction with the exhibit.
“Good art tends to be about the time we live in now. Even though this is in a purposed imaginary future, the proliferation of post-apocalyptic themes in TV, movies and games is hot right now.”
Fitting in well with the increasing popularity of sci-fi pop culture, Hendee’s artwork and story provide interesting commentary and a unique visual take on where our technology-laden world may be headed.