Future Ruins is a collection of work on display at the Naughton Gallery in Belfast by artists who inquire into the architecture of the world in which we live. Curated by Ben Crothers, the exhibition explores a range of architectural issues such as the impermanence, instability and ever-changing nature of contemporary cityscapes. From real estate developments in Berlin to Chicago’s iconic brownstones, Future Ruins explores the navigation of urban landscapes and the body’s relationship to its manmade surroundings. Here are the HausMag highlights!


Return to Order by Adam Murray and Theo Simpson | Courtesy of the artists

“I’m particularly interested in the way in which contemporary cityscapes can be linked to the cycle of the human body – something which grows and matures, varies in size, scale and structure, which can be damaged, fixed and artificially transformed, and which ultimately decays.”

– Ben Crother, Curator of Future Ruins (Crave 2016)

 All the headlines Framed C-type prints and book page 500 x 380mm

All The Headlines, framed C-type prints | Theo Simpson | Courtesy of the artist

Return to Order is a collaborative project by Adam Murray and Theo Simpson, who both reside in the North of England. The project is an exploration of how the social and cultural landscapes of contemporary Northern England can be conceived, with a focus on reoccurring motifs in landscape, agriculture and architecture experienced when travelling between West and East of the country. The work provides a space in which the viewer can reflect on the concept of obsolescence inherent in communities and land.


Echo Chamber Research Sketch (2016) by Liam Crichton | Courtesy of the artist

Scottish sculptor Liam Crichton provides immersive works that challenge traditional perceptions of the built environment. Within the artist’s practice is the creation of large-scale sculptures and installations that investigate physical space. The featured Echo Chamber piece is an immersive exhibition focusing on Belfast City Hall, a site which has very much become the focal point of Belfast city centre. The accompanying abstract soundscape Walking Zeros is a combined recording; partly recorded using contact microphones which were installed on the statues and monuments surrounding the City Hall and later mixed in with the sounds of musician Rick O’Rawe. This soundscape captures the ebb and flow of city life, drawing attention to the indifference of these monumental objects against the dynamism and life of the cities they inhabit. The work is a hauntological reminder of the mortality of the city.   


From Unfinished State by Caitlin Berrigan | Courtesy of the artist

From Unfinished State by Caitlin Berrigan | Courtesy of the artist

Narratives of city-branding and surges of global capital have caused waves of speculative real estate development in Berlin and Beirut, two cities which have been spatially divided by conflict and under construction for decades. Unfinished State by Caitlin Berrigan is a book of images and conversations straying from these narratives into a landscape of unfinished and vacant structures that remain suspended in a state of incompletion, fixed on the brink of a possible future.


It’s Cool, I’m Good by Stanya Kahn | Courtesy of the artist

Future Ruins presents Los Angeles based artist Stanya Kahn in experimental film piece It’s Cool, I’m Good. In this video a bandaged and injured protagonist (Kahn) reflects a stressed personal state amidst an equally stressed environment. Steering the viewer across Los Angeles and its surrounding landscapes, the verbose “patient” offers a non-stop flow of anecdotes, observations and advice on how to navigate a difficult reality.

From Field Studies by Aiden Koch | Courtesy of the artist

Field Studies by Aiden Koch is a pictorial journal illustrating a year in the life of an artist on the road. Beginning in January 2012, the artist lived in a different city every month for almost a year. The collection details her various activities over this time period, from mushroom hunting in California to touring Belgium, Germany and Sweden.

Building Stories by Chris Ware | Courtesy of the artist

American cartoonist Chris Ware showcases Building Stories, an unconventional graphic novel which took Ware a decade to complete. Made up of fourteen printed works, cloth-bound books, newspapers, broadsheets and flip books, the novel is designed to be read in any order. The novel pivots around the inhabitants of a three-storey brownstone apartment building in Chicago, with each drawing depicting the inner life of three neighbours. Their thoughts, ambitions, daydreams, second guesses and real life interactions are scrutinised and in some cases amplified into seemingly monumental events.

Whenever and wherever societies have flourished and prospered rather than stagnated and decayed, creative and workable cities have been at the core of the phenomenon. Decaying cities, declining economies, and mounting social troubles travel together. The combination is not coincidental.

– Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961)


Future Ruins is exhibiting at the Naughton Gallery, Queen’s University, Belfast until 2nd October 2016.