A rich vein of contemporary artistic practice revaluates the utopian dreams of the modern period. "Modern Ruin" brings together artists and filmmakers who look back to modern art, architecture and design in order to visually and critically explore their historical failures. The profusion of recent images of modern ruins in art and film can be seen both as a response to particular physical and aesthetic qualities, and also as a metaphor for loss. The works in the exhibition and film program speak of living in the ruins of Modernism; some translate a mood of disappointment, while others are imbued with a melancholy sense of dreams half-remembered. They examine the decay, detritus and survivals of historical modernity.
Ruination is the shadow of progress and utopian thinking. From the Enlightenment, the idea of the modern was associated with the creation of new bodies of knowledge, progress and the perfection of self and society. From the second half of the nineteenth century, modernity came to signify industrialisation and urbanisation. Modernism as a movement in art, literature, architecture and design, is associated with the avant-gardes of the early twentieth century, with radical innovation and the creation of new languages. A return by artists and filmmakers to Modernism's purified forms and autonomous objects represents an attempt to imagine new meanings for them. The forms of the past emerge at particular times, and often for particular reasons, as fragments or ruins. The contemporary landscape of art and film is littered with such ruins, palimpsests of creation, form and disintegration. The question is how to decipher them in order to create constellations of meaning that move between past, present and future.