Devastation is all the rage these days, with zombie-ridden post-apocalyptic fantasies and lush photographs of urban decay doing a roaring trade in their respective niches. This exhibition traces this modern fascination back through postwar modernism and cities bombed in the Blitz to a 19th century trend for “Ruin Lust”.
It includes photographs of Hitler’s abandoned Atlantic defences (pictured) and a grandiose sketch of a wrecked Bank of England commissioned by its architect. There are picturesque Turner landscapes and a vandalised estate sign.
The exhibition asks interesting questions. Do ruins fulfil a yearning for continuity with the past—or provide a liberating reminder that no order is beyond toppling, no society beyond change? But it is too fragmented to answer them.