Making Ends Meet by Sarah Adams-Bacon
“Tonight I shall carry it out. Tonight, just as the 14th of November has ended and the 15th of November has begun, it will take place, after which nothing will take place ever again, anywhere. But I’d like to tell you how I came to my decision – although – yes, yes, yes, certainly it’s true – to what end should I tell the story, after all? I have just pointed out that tonight everything will come to an end, and this story too will end, and also every reader of my story.”
- Christian Morenstern, “The End of the World”, tr. By E.S. Shaffer, in Comparative Criticism, 6 (Cambridge, 1984), 268.
The framework for this exhibition proposes that the world will end at midnight on May 27, 2010, the night of the Last Day opening reception. This date was found to be as good as any to suit the end of the world, as collected research proved evident that the ability to predict the last day is surprisingly easy to acquire. Some use astronomical evaluation, some environmental data, some deep meditation, some magical chicken eggs, and some stare at the wall for a few seconds until it comes to them. The qualifications to pin such a momentous and finite occasion are impressively varied, and luckily, not very well regulated. Thus, it only made sense that a young emerging curator with no experience or expertise in any area involving geodynamics, astronomy, meteorology, prophetology, or ornithology should choose a date as well.
The artists chosen for this exhibition have been alerted to the calamitous circumstances of this date, and have been asked to produce their final works. The questions that follow are: Will the work be hopeless? Angry? Optimistic? Survivalist? Flippant? Desperate? Reverent? Irreverent? Honest? Vulnerable? Because it remains uncertain if the works will survive the End, will more or less be poured into them?
Of course, as history has consistently shown, the world never quite seems to get to the ending bit. From 13th century Joachim of Fiore to the first of many Jehovah’s Witnesses Doomsday predictions (1874-1999), accuracy within such calculations has proven elusive – delays and reschedules abound. With that in mind, if May 27, 2010 – by some strike of fate unseen – does not wrap up human existence as anticipated, then another “Last Day” exhibition will certainly be penciled in. If nothing else, it will give us more reasons to kiss those we love and forgive those we don’t. Might as well. You never know, right?
“’Postmodernity’ is another kind of ending that does not sound very exciting. Here too we are told of ‘the death of grand narratives’, an end to any possible belief in Truth, History, Progress, Reason or Revolution (still less Revelation). That sounds final enough. And, in its way, it is meant to be liberating. But again there is no sense of a new departure, a new freedom now that the scales of illusion have fallen from our eyes. Instead we are invited to take a purely pragmatic or ironic stance towards the world, to avoid public commitment and devote ourselves to the pursuit of private purposes and private life.”
- Kumar, Krishan. “Apocalypse, Millenium and Utopia Today”. Apocalypse Theory and the Ends of the World, Ed Malcolm Bull. Cambridge: Blackwell Publishers Inc. 1996. 207