Art at the End of the World | Spring 2020 | University of Iowa School of Art and Art History

The world is ending. Again. Doomsdayers and apocalyptic prophets have warned of coming calamity for millennia, and still humanity persists. Today’s challenges - staggering economic and social inequality, threat of nuclear annihilation, climate change - while overwhelming and seemingly insurmountable, are not unprecedented. What is the role of the apocalyptic artist*? Perhaps artists should position themselves as death doulas intent on enacting an elegant end, as curator Paola Antonelli has suggested in her forthcoming exhibition Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival. Then again, maybe artists are destined to simply record and bear witness to cataclysm. More hopefully, artists could be saviors tasked with the creation of a new, better world, as in the work of Afrofuturists and other utopians. In this class, students will explore the history of the end of times from ancient prophecy through maleficent technological takeovers of the near future. Through this exploration, students will create new works in response to world endings past and future, curate and execute a public exhibition, and lead a series of public programs. *Artist is used here in the broadest sense - students from all disciplines are welcome in this class!