Under the bricks and rubble of the grand Olympic project lie the broken dreams of past utopias. From Ballard to Boris, the grand advance of modernism has been abandoned beneath the dystopian shards.
Our collective current state of affairs is highlighted by past optimistic proposals such as The Festival of Britain (1951) and post-war building programmes with essentially socialist drives to improve society which are in stark contrast to the regeneration schemes and public finance initiatives, which now embody the failures of both late capitalist Conservatism and New Labour.
The End of the Future coincides with the London Olympics, for some a positive affirmation of the highest ideals, for others a cynical corporate scheme with the veneer of regeneration. The four participating artists look back at lost ideals and eras of optimism and present these though a haze of nostalgia for a future that never materialised and a knowing acceptance of failure.
Clive Brandon’s bricolage of psycho-geography, science fiction, high modernism, architecture and the banal are brought together as paintings, collages, books, films, slides and interventions, using both found images and photos from site visits and walks. He is inspired by the modernist and utopian ideals, spirit and aesthetics of post-war Britain. Brandon’s work could be described as a glitchy, broken modernism that evokes an imaginary idyllic period.
Matthew Houlding's sculptures and collages draw us into a fantastic, retro-futuristic world, inspired by architectural forms and models, modernism and a childhood spent in East Africa. His recent sculptures and collages pay homage to the utopian zeal of modern architecture. Drawing on Structuralist and Formalist ideas, contrasting geometry is framed by bold, primary coloured Perspex, which casts a Californian sunny glow over the people-free, split-level condo-like exteriors and interiors, suggesting an inherent optimism and sublime future.
Sam Knowles’ practice deals with metaphysical concerns, and the notion that the world – and man’s existence in it – can be explained by the ‘grand’ theories of philosophy, art and science. It is the gaps left behind by the departure of the meta-theory that form the starting points for many of his works, which are informed by game playing, structures and systems of knowledge.
Alex Pearl makes mini epic films, video installations, sculpture and books with the sense of an acceptance of failure or disappointment as important parts of the human condition. Using readily available materials and software, his films are made from suddenly apprehended ideas, discovered objects and impromptu processes. They make light with big issues and are, in turn, haunting and funny. Fragile, temporary sculptures have the appearance of being on the verge of collapse or already broken. The work displays playfulness with its own limitations and a hopeless desire for greatness.