Apocalypse Simulacra

'Apocalypse Simulacra' by Robert Hightower
Opening Reception - Saturday, January 18, 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
January 18 - January 29
Artist Talk - Saturday, January 25, 10:30 a.m. Reception, 11:00 p.m. Presentation

A special immersive gallery installation, “Apocalypse Simulacra” is a narrative presentation of the twilight of humanity, at the fulcrum of extinction by Atlanta-based artist Robert Hightower. Through stage-set constructions, readymade plastic models and paintings, Hightower investigates the duality of right/wrong, good/bad, eternal/ephemeral in light of the imminent end of the Human Epoch. It depicts the ideological origins of corporate greed and power, the reality of wealth distribution in the “American Dream,” and the socio-economic and environmental impacts of that collective greed. After receiving a BFA in sculpture from the University of Georgia, Hightower moved to New York City and participated in The Bronx Museum of the Art’s AIM Fellowship (Artist In the Marketplace). While in New York, his interests expanded to include art installation and the creation of spaces, and has since designed and built many unique homes, penthouses and restaurants throughout the United States. Hightower has returned home to Atlanta and will be presenting his most comprehensive body of work to date, “Apocalypse Simulacra,” a unique universe of beauty, dichotomy and uncertainty.


The 'Apocalypse Simulacra' is a presentation of the twilight of humanity, at the fulcrum of extinction.

The climate is the subject.  The Simulacra is the Theme. First discussed by Plato, the Simulacra is the search for Truth in Duality. Developing into Post-Modernism with Nietzsche’s: truth=Truth. Now with French social theorist Jean Baudrillard, the Simulacra has evolved beyond Post-Modernism, into the wholesale confusion of the real/fake, the true/false… between reality and hyper-reality.  This crumbling, confusing of the truth (not necessarily the Truth) is our Reality.

For over two decades, I have created large format paintings of strip malls, suburban houses and toys. These paintings present singular images flattened-out (almost floating) on color-fields. They create a certain duality - a loving portrait of an inanimate object that would not normally be singled-out for affection. With my latest work, I have added a variety of iconic images: an airplane, a whisky bottle, a woman floating in a pool. The icons are presented in a pixelated or degenerated state. In addition to paintings, I have used adult-size building blocks to create sculptures or three-dimensional paintings. Using a child's toy at an adult-scale gives the building blocks an austere and powerful presence. The building blocks echo the blocks of the pixelated paintings. I have also begun incorporating stage-set or prop-like sculptures. My goal is to present a "30,000 foot" macro view of the world as we enter the 'Apocalypse Simulacra.'

At first, the 'Apocalypse Simulacra' is a literal reading of the Book of Revelations, but upon closer investigation an inherent duality comes into focus … food made from lead, a boat made of paper, a shrine in the slums, a funeral pyre in an urban setting, a corporate high rise made of children's building blocks. Duality is a central theme in my work: right/wrong, reality/fantasy, eternal/ephemeral. Questioning these dual meanings in the context of an impending apocalypse points to a more metaphorical perspective, an Internal Revelation - the process of Individual Enlightenment. 

Perhaps both are true … the individual journey of the soul to enlightenment, and the collective wholesale destruction of our world.  Perhaps here is where Plato’s “World of Ideals” and Nietzsche’s “Post-Modern” worlds merge, and yield to Baudrillard’s Simulacra of the “Hyper Real”… an even more confused world where one cannot discern between the real and the virtual … how can you have a democracy when you can’t believe anything you see or read?

Using sculpture, I have created a macro portrait of our capitalist world as it leads us to the imminent destruction of our physical world.  My portrait depicts the ideological origin of corporate greed and power, the reality of wealth distribution in the "American Dream" and the socio-economic and environmental impacts of our collective greed.

The paintings of the 'Apocalypse Simulacra' present a micro perspective of our reality, our own individual degenerations and transgressions in both the physical and spiritual world.  When does rest become sloth, and turn to apathy? When does the desire for human contact turn to lust, and subjugate others? 

How grossly has our greed sold-out our future, in lieu of profit today? The work is a snapshot of where we are…a macro and micro view from above and within. The 'Apocalypse Simulacra' is a view of the turning point of humanity’s survival. In midst of global mass extinctions, exponential human population growth, gross excesses of the planet’s resources, and massive global pollution, most are still debating how to drive the bus, while the bus is racing toward the cliff. It may already be too late to turn the wheel or even apply the brakes.


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