When Tom Cruise or Matt Damon trudge across the screen in stunning post-apocalyptic landscapes (really, it’s just Iceland), it’s only vaguely recognizable as the Earth most of us are used to. A be-cratered Pentagon here, a toppling, sand-covered Statue of Liberty there. The architectural relics these blockbusters highlight tend to be easily identifiable structures that show the audience just how different this future-Earth is from our own.
“Apocalypse in Art,” a series of photomontages by Ukrainian artists Vitaliy and Elena Vasilieva, renders this narrative device more stark and despondent that any recent Hollywood film has. The images, which are being exhibited in the collateral Biennale event “Time, Space, Existence” in Venice, place some of the world’s great museums into desolate, unidentifiable landscapes. Oscar Niemeyer’s Niterói Contemporary Art Museum is unceremoniously deposited in a snowy hinterland, while SANAA’s New Museum drifts out to sea. The Centre Pompidou receives perhaps the worst abuse, abandoned in the middle of the desert to be slowly buried by whiplashing sand.