Panama 2020 – Last Show On Earth Ep 5
‘Casa de Apocalipses’ kind of became the signature piece of the static art output – Maitane and I had both evolved old ideas and developed new ones, but the apocalypse house brought all these elements and us together, creating a powerful reflection of our times. We were still quite unaware of the reach of the coronavirus pandemic at this point, but this piece somehow encapsulated what was to come.
The scaled-up naughty child sits alone in its room, like Mother Nature had sent them there to think about what they had done! Above in the roof, a war-torn post-apocalyptic city landscape crumbles around the last tree, watched over by our imaginary forsaking gods or goddesses who stare down from the blood red moon. The child is without arms but still has wings, angelic, ghostly, angels with dirty faces, earthbound by an umbilical cord that sinks through a hole in the floor to a bunker below, deserted and derelict, yet somehow ready and waiting. All that’s left of the dream of the nuclear family home. Below all this is the mermaid’s cave, full of the forgotten treasures of our disposable age, the siren’s song we never heeded and seldom heard above the noise of the traffic.
Where Atlantic waves crashed to Caribbean shores,
I buried my heart to cry no more,
and plucked my treasures from the grimy maw,
of this beast we created now the earth doth sprawl.
Chewed up and spat out, without a care,
mangled and shat out from who knows where,
all the things we bought and shared,
lay dying here and we unaware,
toxic poison disguised as bliss,
how did we ever believe any of this?
To make us happy? To make us rich?
The more you have the more gets ditched,
packets and wrappers, bottles and bags,
toothbrushes, combs and the butt ends of fags!
toys and games, beauty products so strange,
things to clean houses, cars and trains,
washed out and washed up with sun bleached names,
Colgate, Nescafé, Coca Cola to blame,
is Nike like me? Is this all a game?
Played the world over, is everywhere the same?
Who are they kidding, if not me and you?
But more to the point, what can we do?
Don’t buy it, just try it, that’s somewhere to start,
lead by example show that life can be art,
the art of living, the greatest show there is,
the whole world’s a stage so get on it and give,
there’s no need to pretend, you just have to be you,
and when all’s said and done what else can we do?
Don’t worry be happy it’s only a ride,
everything’s to play for, now there’s nowhere to hide!
These descriptions and reflections are of course in my own words, and Mai would have her own take on it too, we saw the same visions but didn’t over-conceptualise it to begin with. In fact, they may well have been separate pieces at first, but as we stacked them up things fell into place. The story or message usually comes afterwards for me, upon reflection. I like it this way, the same way Tom Waits talks of catching his songs while they float by, otherwise they get pissed off and stop coming. Though writing is different from working visually, it’s a similar realm of channeling and going with the flow of inspiration when it comes, otherwise I find you can procrastinate and overthink it and never do anything. Just have at it, try and shut the commentary in your head off and crack on, working out the details and what it all means is for later, possibly even for someone else?
So there is the angel ghost forgotten child alone, haunting the happy home, above and beyond these walls is the apocalyptic landscape, created by its parents’ generation in the name of providing the best life possible for their children, ‘we do it for our kids’ is such a common line. ‘I didn’t want to make nuclear weapons for a living but I got kids to feed’. Below is the bunker, the last bastion of safety in a world made toxic by greed and power, such a strange phenomenon is the bunker! Somewhere to hide out while the world is destroyed, thinking we can just pop out after and carry on. The sad slightly derelict nature of this one totally captivated me and Mai had the lead on this room. The mermaid’s cave below it all became home to a mermaid I had made from a semi-melted bottle which had perfectly formed a torso, and a few other choice pieces.
The whole piece and process blew us both away as well as festival-goers, some of whom spent hours gazing in wonder at the details. Little did we know how incredibly poignant and ironic/iconic this piece would become – but we were about to find out.