The City: Where do we go from here?


“The City” by Lori Nix is an eerily inspiring and thought-provoking art exhibition using models of abandoned and derelict locations. Nix’s art depicts many everyday locations from shopping malls, laundromats, and salons to more unique ones such as a space center and a control room in an unknown context.

Each model is meticulously crafted and seems so lifelike that at a glance one might not even know it is a model. It is the details that make each scene so intriguing and yet so haunting. The photos depict only the manufactured and natural environment with no living subjects anywhere to be found which leaves the viewer wondering, “where did the people go?”

A dark future
This lack of humans is no coincidence and has an express purpose. Nix’s exhibit challenges us to ask ourselves deeper questions about the future of life on Earth and the impact or our presence here. If this were truly the apocalypse, would we not see some sign of bodies, or have they already turned to dust with the passing of time? The images give us some idea of when they may have been taken but are vague enough in setting to leave us guessing. Is it tomorrow or twenty years from now?

Nature seems to be taking these spaces back over, but ever so slowly. In “Library” we can see a tree growing directly from the linoleum tile floor. It has grown tall and is peeking through the roof, giving us a glimpse of a blue sky just beyond the building. In every photograph, we are left to wonder what is beyond the windows in the outdoors, each giving just a small glance of what might be out there after we are long gone.

Another world
The viewer must question not only what is out beyond these partial views of singular rooms but what happened to make it this way. Whether humans have died off or simply up and departed the planet, leaving behind the ghost of the expansive civilization that once thrived there. In another photo entitled “Space Center” space suits of varying size are displayed in the center of a room scattered with futuristic artifacts and covered in moss. The suits and an alien purple sky outside the cracked windows evoke the thought that we may not even be on Earth anymore.

This gives rise, once again, to the question of when these photos were taken. If the photo was indeed taken on another planet, how long could it have taken us to get there? If moss and other plants have grown and taken over the space, how long has it been abandoned?

Above and beyond all else, “The City” tries to convey the message that the universe began in a certain state, and it will always return to that state, no matter how long it takes. This is the nature of the universe, and this is the hopeful note Nix surely wants to leave viewers with.

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