In Practice: Literally means collapse is an exhibition of new works and artistic meditations that consider the notion of the ruin expanded to include social traditions as well as physical infrastructure. From built environments and structures of circulation to protocols and belief systems that shape social and political subjects, infrastructures are in constant generative friction with decay. Rituals of maintenance are designed and performed to prevent what is constructed from being physically, or subjectively, ruined.

Diagnosing a contemporary obsession with ruins, artist and theorist Svetlana Boym has written, “‘Ruin’ literally means ‘collapse’—but actually, ruins are more about remainders and reminders.” Boym elaborates that as sites, ruins can simultaneously trigger both potential nostalgias and imagined futures. Existing among ruins is existing among spaces of asynchrony—of histories and timescales collapsed.

The artists in the exhibition trace collapse through material and metaphor. Some examine the failures of cities and other containers of information, working with and against the anxieties of deterioration. Others remind us of the strategic disintegration and flattening of symbols and aesthetics. And some embrace the breaking down of space, time, language, and other familiar logics. In Practice: Literally means collapse collects these overlapping studies in the paradoxical timescale of ruin.

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