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Thomas Hirschhorn

Ruins Ahead, 2016
cardboard, prints, adhesive, coins, triptych
240.0 x 480.0 cm
Three panels, totalling 5 metres in length, make up the imposing collage Ruins Ahead by Thomas Hirschhorn. In keeping with his approach, the artist uses very simple materials like cardboard, adhesive tape and paper to create an image of a bombarded facade. Ruins from a variety of periods loom in the distance, under a shower of euro pennies.

The assemblage of half-collapsed buildings evokes the history—of yesterday, today and tomorrow—marked by these successive constructions and destructions. The viewer, as if trapped in the interior space of a living room, notices the ruins and becomes a witness to that chaos. The only vestige still on the wall, a painting of the Madonna and Child, counterbalances the violence perceptible through a shell hole. For Hirschhorn, ruins have a complex, multifarious meaning relating to natural and human, political or economic, accidental or intentional disasters that primarily symbolise a deserted, dehumanised, timeless place.

The theme of the ruin is found at the heart of a broader body of collages that Hirschhorn began in 2016 (Beyond the Ruins, A Ruin Is a Ruin, It Is Now in Ruins). By assembling sites whose origin, era and value are remote, the artist accentuates and questions this theme’s various forms. Through visual collages or reconstructed landscapes that have a tragic realism, the politically engaged artist shows us his view of the state of the world.

‘What really counts is that no ruin is “innocent”. All ruins connect beyond time and beyond location—a ruin is universal and timeless’ (Thomas Hirschhorn).
Thomas Hirschhorn, Ruins ahead, 2016