Twilight is upon me / exhibition catalogue


The universe is constantly moving. Planets disappear and others comes into existence, like our own earth once was formed from a nebula. Everything we know, all that surrounds us, is a product from space. Human exploration of its pacing in the universe is concurrent with some of its most characteristic traits: the need to know, to understand and to map out. The wish to bring human evolution one step further have been one of the driving forces behind modern space research. With Twilight Is Upon Me, Javier Barrios juxtaposes this modernistic optimism with apocalyptic outlooks, the physical laws of the universe and the blurry line between fiction and reality. Barrios starting point is from real space research as well as from classical science fiction. His works are manifestations of what humans have imagined, what we have learned and what we have yet to figure out. Utopian fantasies and pieces of the reality we are increasingly aware of are fused together. What humans have been able to imagine have to a large extent been controlled by available technology, which has contributed to gliding transitions between what’s fantasy and what's real. Our ability to predict the future is very limited, and Barrios challenges the notion that there are rational ways to foresee what lies ahead. His artistic exploration of scientific studies, popular culture and history still sheds some light on certain patterns of ideas and mindsets that defines humans' opinion of their own existence and placing in a greater whole in modern times.

Twilight Is Upon Me highlights several views, without making any statements about the accuracy of the individual. In several works one sees contrasting artistic idioms. The overlapping layers of information provide no clear answers. This contradictory visual space brings out the aesthetic tension between the vastness of the universe and the human exploration of space. The organic shapes of a nebula are in stark contrast to the strict lines of a space centre. Geometrical shapes break down a dusty moonscape. Our road to understanding has gone through mathematical formulas, models and technical drawings which in turn have shaped our aesthetical ideas about space. The works of Barrios depicts this. The formalistic aspects of the works also reflect their relationship with reality. Barrios uses industrial materials such as aluminum, plastic and mylar. These elements, obtained from the depicted objects own realms, move the works away from pure imitation. A 3D cut-out of the space shuttle Atlantis or a casting of a NASA training helmet expresses closer ties to reality than a painted version of the same subject. In addition to being an extension of certain sides of human nature, space research suggests the economical and political standing of a nation. Status, hierarchy and a paramount desire to be one step ahead have been important aspects of a leading space nation such as the United States' motivation to invest in space programs. In a time where the future can seem most uncertain, iconic constructions from the golden age of space research can be read both as a symbol of greatness and as representatives of the past.International affairs influence astronomic research and vice versa.

Another power motive behind the commitment to the exploration of space is the notion of an upcoming apocalypse, triggered by humans. Our depletion of natural resources seems to be never-ending and the consequences might be severe. Yet the road towards doom seems to run parallel to the one leading to salvation. The material and technological progress propelled by the last generations has not only led to a potentially self-destructive overconsumption, it has also steered towards an alternative to our existence on earth. The fact that this alternative lies beyond the limits of our own atmosphere makes space a symbol of human's certainty that we are heading for catastrophe. The reflection of a dark sun in the visor of a space helmet can be seen as an expression of gloomy pessimism. Still it bears witness to a hope that we once will be able to save ourselves from ourselves. Twilight Is Upon Me places human exploration of the universe in a room of mirrors, where the different aspects can be viewed from many angles. Our constant search for knowledge is put up against the image we have of ourselves, and clarifies common features of our views of the world. Human evolution is depicted as a double-edged sword. The goal of constant development can turn out to be both destructive and our only way out. We are confronted with both our great capacity and our limitations. The infinity of space and the blurry outline of the future are placed side to side with our obsessive need to know and to explain. What once were fantasies now have become real; theories once considered to be true have later been replaced by new theories. The universe is constantly moving – an endless space filled with pitch darkness, glimmering light and undiscovered life. What will happen when twilight falls upon the human race?

Maria Horvei