‘B’ak’tun 13’ by John Howard

The end of the world is coming, again, on December 21, 2012, according to ancient Mayan astrologers. In honor of the pending apocalypse, Galerie F in Logan Square asked about twenty artists to herald our forthcoming demise with specially designed screenprinted posters. The responses were more celebratory lesbian zombies than burning sinners, because the end of the world is a reason to party—obviously. Also expect mushroom clouds, fiery suns, and cutesy meteors (one meteor takes the shape of a planet-gobbling Pac-Man.)

Printmaking has a history of announcing the world’s end. The German engraver Albrecht Dürer profited from his woodcuts of the Apocalypse, which he circulated two years before the supposed end of the world in 1500. Dürer’s Apocalypse depictions are grotesque images of humans caught between battling angels and demons. Unlike Galerie F’s presentation, Dürer was more doomed sinners than zombie soiree.

Among the works in the Galerie F show is John Howard’s B’ak’tun 13 (seen above). The poster features some awesome original 1960s psychedelic-inspired imagery such as an oozing demon carrying the Mayan clock on his shoulders. It’s not unusual that American artists take a cinematic perspective of the world’s end—it’s our cultural go-to after all. Gina Kelly’s painting of a burning Hollywood sign, for example, or the mushroom cloud, a ubiquitous symbol of manmade destruction, which makes a few appearances.

End of the World shows at Galerie F, 2381 N. Milwaukee Ave., through January 4, 2013.

And if you still want to cram in one more cultural pick before, well, you know, the Experimental Sound Studio in Edgewater is hosting a live, 12-hour drone performance on Armageddon Night. A drone is a single note held at length like a slow hum or a sustained scream. Anyone is welcome to attend, soak in the anxiety, or add a note to the last concert ever, on December 21, 12pm–12am, at ESS, 5925 N. Ravenswood Ave.

Jason Foumberg is Chicago magazine’s contributing art critic.


Photograph: Galerie F