Critics’ Picks

View of “Andreas Angelidakis: Soft Ruin,” 2016.

View of “Andreas Angelidakis: Soft Ruin,” 2016.


Andreas Angelidakis

Tarihi Bomonti Bira Fabrikası, Birahane Sokak No: 1
April 13–July 3, 2016

In Madame de Staël’s 1807 classic, Corinne, the Italian heroine treats a visiting Scottish nobleman to the view from Rome’s Capitoline Hill, with the caveat that “readings in history . . . do not act upon our souls like these scattered stones.” The conviction that our antiquity must be experienced firsthand was one of the primary motivations behind the Grand Tour, an itinerary popularized in the late seventeenth century that sent well-born Europeans off in search of the supposed origins of Western Civilization, as if the future of the present lay squarely in the past.

Andreas Angelidakis’s exhibition “Soft Ruin” keeps this custom in mind as it speculates as to what kind of legacy our own present might leave behind. Building an Electronic Ruin, 2011, a five-minute video set in the abandoned screenscapes of the once-popular virtual world Second Life, follows the attempts of the artist’s avatar—Andreas Onlyone—to construct simulated ruins, since animated structures do not age and are immune to decay. The game’s cursor struggles to navigate through the program’s hopelessly cluttered interface as the character prowls through online ghost towns, their outdated billboards still flashing. The accompanying text ponders the fate of other abandoned virtual commons, such as Myspace or Friendster. What happens to these electronic artifacts? “Maybe one day Facebook will be our ancient Rome,” the artist concludes. But what insight could this Grand Tour 2.0—screenshots subbed in for “scattered stones”—possibly yield? And given the extreme temporal disjuncture of technology only a decade old, what even constitutes antiquity to a contemporary audience?