Just type "21 December 2012" into a search engine and you will get an idea of the psychological impact of that date. The hundreds of prophecies announcing the end of the world are sometimes alienating, sometimes sources of revolt or hope, and seem to be so many reminders of our dismay at our mortality and the relativity of time.
The choice of 21 December 2012 as the end of the exhibition is a recognition of that fateful date. Beyond all messianism, the eschatological texts remind us, whatever our origins or our convictions, that we are capable of revolting, questioning ourselves, and dreaming of change and freedom.
“Contemporary Western imagination is steeped in thoughts about the end of the world. Subscribers to eschatological thinking (millenarians, messianists, adventists, survivalists, etc.) were quick to point to the year 2000 as the year of the Apocalypse, which brings both Revelation (from the Greek apokalupsis) and catastrophe. This interpretation is echoed in alarmist statements of every stamp that feed off the latest announcements of worrying scientific developments, medical, ecological (pollution) and planetary catastrophes, and collective, social and private stalemates; and is reflected in a resurgence of sects and religions. When it is not the end of history or ideologies which is trumpeted (Fukuyama 1992), it is the turn of literature or the novel, music, painting, books and the printed word, culture, or the author to be declared dead, after Mankind and after God.
These imaginary scenarios are not homogeneous. The end which they envision could be that of the world, or of a world, a tradition, or a practice. They arise in many places and the space they occupy is central for some of them, because of the essential character of origin and end-of-world myths (Éliade 1963); whereas for others they may be peripheral, made up of marginal and sectarian statements, alienation and persecution. They have complex forms and it seems that the malaise that they reveal is more acute on the fringes of our society.”
“We are heading for disaster, J.-P. Dupuy, rightly tells us in his book Pour un catastrophisme éclairé, and paradoxically warns us to recognise its inevitability in order to try to avoid it. But apart from the fact that the feeling of inevitability might lead to passivity, Dupuy improperly confounds the probable with the inevitable. The probable is what an observer in a given time and place, armed with the most reliable data, sees as the future process. And indeed, all current processes lead towards disaster. But the improbable remains possible and past history has shown us that the improbable can replace the probable […]”
“Nowadays, the apocalypse is being secularised by those who predict unprecedented ecological catastrophes if we do not accept their precepts. These precepts are not subjected to critical reasoning to single out crucial problems and suggest new ways for us to understand and act appropriately towards our living environment. Emotion takes over from thought, by upholding the belief in the predictability of a field – that of living systems and the climate – which does not lend itself to such treatment. Wherever complexity reigns, as for example in finance, meteorology or living organisms, phenomena are so sensitive to initial conditions that they become very unpredictable, or can only be predicted over the short term. The slightest cause could tip everything in an unexpected direction. Faced by the direst threats, it is not madness to want to avoid them and to learn from Damocles, who abandoned his false view of things and who, thanks to the King, settled for a life he might be in less danger of losing.”