Several days following the opening of Diana Al Hadid's Reverse Collider, the experiment after which the exhibition is named registered its first victory. Scientists on the Franco-Swiss border celebrated after activating the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the greatest particle collider to date, which will eventually recreate conditions similar to those that had existed right before the Big Bang and thus illuminate aspects of the evolution of the universe. Yet Al Hadid’s exhibition displays the opposite of the total view these scientists wish to attain—her sculptures and drawings of mythic structures appear crumbling, with hints of disaster dangling from the corners of their foundation.
Made of a concoction of materials including fiberglass, polystyrene, cardboard, wood, and plaster, each of the four sculptures and wall piece share the common architectural blueprint of a labyrinth, evoking the Tower of Babel as Pieter Brueghel the Elder had envisioned it in his 16th century painting. Similar to the way in which the LHC scientists are striving to discover the absolute core of our existence, those who had envisaged the Tower of Babel in the Book of Genesis defined it as a place that would serve as the center of humanity.
Both of these ambitious concepts are introduced by Al Hadid in each of the works, though are literally upended, as her ‘Babelonian’ structures stand precariously on their tips, cloaked in a smoky substance, or melting unto themselves. Like a scientific experiment gone terribly awry, the sense of chaos and dissolution is rampant throughout the gallery spaces, suggesting that we had missed the colossal disaster that just swept through by a mere second.
Images: Self-Melt (2008); The Path of Diminishing Returns (2008). Courtesy Perry Rubenstein Gallery, New York.