ID:ENTITY Self: Perception + Reality

The 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse

Marc Russo, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Silence, Decay, Consumption, Death 2011

One featured work in ID:ENTITY that exemplifies the experimental dynamic nature of the exhibition is a four-screen installation by Marc Russo depicting The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. In Russo’s re-imagining, the first horseman, Silence, prevents communication and censors thoughts and expression. Silence results in the second sign: Decay. The next sign is Consumption, relating to the mass consumption of our resources, which ultimately leads to our Death.

According to John, the author of the Book of Revelation, there will be seven signs that come before the Apocalypse and God’s judgment. The first four signs will be brought to the earth by mounted warriors, creatures known classically as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Conquest, War, Famine, and Death. I believe John was concerned by the events happening when he penned the last chapter of the Bible, and Revelation is his warning to us: if we continue with our evil conquests and wars, this will lead to a plague of famine and, ultimately, death.

The Four Horsemen have been depicted artistically many times since they were introduced during the 1st Century AD. Examples are found in medieval illuminated texts, and the creatures were famously illustrated in Albrecht Dürer’s woodcut in the 15th Century. In popular culture, the Four Horsemen have been reinterpreted in graphic novels, digital illustrations, music, literature, and film. The works vary in viewpoint, focus, details, and treatment of the story and characters.

I believe the signs of the Apocalypse will be smaller and more subtle than the catastrophic ones John predicted. In my re-imagining, The First Horseman, Silence, prevents us from communicating with each other and censors our thoughts and expression. In this way, silence has a direct effect on our memory. If we do not communicate, we cannot remember our past and learn from our mistakes. Our silence will then result in the second sign: Decay. This decay will be the disintegration of our social order and the material things that represent it. By ignoring the decay of our world, we are ignoring time – Nature’s singular tool to warn us of our impending turning point. The next sign will be our voracious Consumption of our resources as we build around the ruins of our past. As we continue to consume and multiply, we are literally eating and destroying the earth from under our feet. It is impossible to forecast what mutations this will spawn; however, it is my belief that Mother Nature will defend herself, which will ultimately lead to our Death.

For ages, artists have used the art form that they felt would best update the Four Horsemen. This installation is intended to continue in this tradition. By depicting them in video, I hope to link my project to a lineage of important art that spans a millennium and to reevaluate the idea of the Four Horsemen for the 21st Century.

The 4 Horsemen of The Apocalypse

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