Published in Trebuchet Magazine
A short title for many art exhibitions these days and yet one that promises, or is suggestive of, so much. Notions of desire and aesthetic pleasure immediately come to mind, offering up an exploration into different types of desire in the themes and subjects of the work displayed. Perhaps less obviously, ‘Ruin Lust’ also directly references the book by Rose Macaulay called ‘Pleasure of Ruins’ from 1953, which looks at the nostalgic pleasures of monuments and ruins of civilisation across different periods and cultures.
Not having been to a Press View of an exhibition before, I was eager to see how the journalists would ‘make’ something out of ruins, how they physically go about constructing stories – and mapping histories – out the wreckage of a past presented in specific, and often political, contexts. This idea of creation out of destruction is, of course, one of the prominent themes of the exhibition itself. An important part of this aesthetic and potentially political idea is the notion that ruins can point towards futures, potentials, opportunities and constructions of the new, as well as to endings, such as the end of Empire (a particular trope for which ruins were used in the 18th and 19th centuries), failures and even degeneration. In this way, ‘Ruin Lust’ aims to include investigations of both obvious and more surprising ways in which ruins have been used from the 16th century onwards. It is both a serious and humorous project. This sense of duality is something the exhibition cultivates in terms of themes, artists and curatorial decisions of presentation. Continue reading