Essay on Decline · Luis Úrculo

Albert Speer, the architect that Hitler placed in charge of most of the important building projects of the Third Reich, habitually made drawings of the future ruins of his own buildings. Speer claimed, with reason, that the real potential of architecture resides in the evocative force of its future ruin or destruction. And in order to justify this argument, he recalled monumental structures of the past, the remains of civilizations such as the Roman, Greek and Egyptian ones.

Luis Úrculo’s works deal with this fall from power and its manifestation on the basis of monumental architecture. Using compositions of domestic objects, arranged according to the neoclassical ideal, he depicts the collapse and breakdown of the symbols of a stable and eternal Europe, the celebration of failure as an aesthetic act. At the same time, Úrculo portrays the very concept of collapse or destruction at a precise moment in a person’s life.

Iván López Munuera explains:

“A cult to decline, as Andreas Huyssen points out, has sprung from one of the greatest obsessions of contemporary times. Because decline or ruin begs for a place that is charged with nostalgia; [it is] a call to a past that no longer exists, that questions the present from a position that ponders not only the past, but also the uncertainty to come.”

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