Armageddon is a place in northern Israel that lends its name to the end of the world. A UNESCO World Heritage Site known by its modern name Tel Megiddo, Armageddon is thought to have seen more battles than any other location in the world, and dominated the the crossroads of ancient trade and military routes linking Egypt with Mesopotamia.
A hellish sodium-lit environment provides the setting for Nick Crowe and Ian Rawlinson’s video installation, Song for Armageddon, shot on location at Tel Megiddo and made in collaboration with Israeli composer Ophir Ilzetzki. Over one night, a group of workers endlessly set out and wipe down thousands of chairs to create a large auditorium for an unknown audience, waiting for sunrise.
The artists’ largest production to date, Song for Armageddon engages with Tel Megiddo’s remarkable heritage but also elaborates on historical confusion between place and event. The film loops every 17 minutes, creating a powerful visual and acoustic meditation that culminates with a haunting performance by singer Faye Shapiro.
Nick Crowe and Ian Rawlinson, born in Barnsley and Macclesfield respectively, work collaboratively between studios in Berlin and Manchester. Working together since 1994, they are fascinated by spectacle and drawn to the ways in which power and authority articulate themselves, their works often combining densely layered visual and acoustic allusions to faith, politics, national identity and the environment.
Song for Armageddon is produced by Forma. Created by Nick Crowe and Ian Rawlinson in collaboration with Ophir Ilzetzki in 2016–17. Cinematography by Martin Testar. Commissioned by Forma and University of Salford Art Collection, in association with BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art. Supported by Arts Council England.