“In an age of Trump, Putin and climate change, with globalisation and wars – civil and otherwise – racking the globe, this work is a chance to return to the source of ‘end times’ iconography. Armageddon is a nexus of metaphysics and geopolitics.” So say Nick Crowe and Ian Rawlinson about their latest collaboration, Song For Armageddon. Made in conjunction with Israeli composer Ophir Ilzetzki, this powerful and hypnotic video installation is a fascinating visual and acoustic experience.
Crowe and Rawlinson, born in Barnsley and Macclesfield respectively, have been working together since 1994, their art addressing questions about faith, politics, national identity and the environment. Song For Armageddon represents their biggest undertaking to date, taking the artists to Armageddon in northern Israel. A UNESCO world heritage site now better known by its modern name Tel Megiddo, Armageddon is thought to have seen more battles than any other location in the world.
Premiering at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, on 20 September, before opening to the public across the following four days, Song For Armageddon was shot on location in Tel Megiddo. As workers endlessly set out and wipe down thousands of plastic chairs to create a large auditorium for an unknown audience, the film loops every 17 minutes, culminating with an ethereal performance by singer Faye Shapiro.
The installation is presented by Forma and the University of Salford Art Collection. Calling Crowe and Rawlinson “visionaries at the intersection of art and conscience”, Debbi Lander, the artistic director at Forma, commented: “Song for Armageddon opens us an array of pathways of thought, contemplation and reflection for those who love sublime art and have hopes for the future of our world. A work of prophecy, activism and art, Song for Armageddon is an end times intervention.”
A work that engages with Tel Megiddo’s remarkable heritage but also elaborates on historical confusion between place and event, it sense of timing is uncanny, coinciding with global instability. As Lander puts it, Song For Armageddon is a “beautiful and intelligent new work, especially at a time of profound crisis, one in which the survival of the species hangs in the balance.” It’s the end of the world as they know it.
Song For Armageddon runs from 21-24 September. For more details, visit: www.balticmill.com
1. ick Crowe and Ian Rawlinson, Song For Armageddon. Courtesy of BALTIC.