By unearthing ancient artefacts, archaeologists shed light on the shadows of a time long past – hoping to gain a better understanding of human history. Using principles from this discipline, Olivia de Gouveia designed a series of structures to reveal something about the present in a fictional future. She calls this ‘inverse archaeology’.With people losing their jobs and homes in the face of massive economic and natural catastrophes, de Gouveia sees displacement as a widespread malaise characterising our times. As a visual symbol to reflect this sentiment, Apocalyptopia is drawn from the global phenomena of shipwrecks. Inspired by displaced boats found locally along the infamous Skeleton Coast of her native Namibia, she began to observe them on a global level after the recent tsunami in Japan. In Apocalyptopia, the visually catastrophic volume of a ship perched on top of a two-storey building is reduced to skeletal fragments that only subtly hint at their origin, reinforcing the feeling of being neither here nor there.
And so, her haunting ‘sculptural fragments’ are the result of a personal excavation of our zeitgeist. Bearing down on the individual from above, the structures generate the same feeling of displacement they symbolise. They also form bridges across time, acting as a modern critique on our contemporary society for future generations to discover.
Olivia de Gouveia