Textual and visual ephemera along with performative documents stemming from a reading of Mary Shelley's 1826 novel The Last Man.
Mary Shelley's novel The Last Man tells the story of a great plague that ravages the globe and forever alters human history. Shelley structured the novel as a reconstruction of text fragments, prophetically written on leaves found scattered in a cave near Naples, left there by the Cumaen Sibyl, the ancient Greek priestess who served as a mouthpiece for the gods. Because the novel offers inescapable parallels with our own present day's great plague, the Pure Fiction group approached this work as a way of shedding light on larger contemporary cultural crises. The contributors' texts and their adjoining ephemeral counterparts—specially commissioned for this publication and the synonymous performance series at the Kölnischer Kunstverein—reflect on themes such as the weight of the past, solitude, our zeitgeist's radical shift in “intimacy,” repetition, and precariously living on our epoch's edge, all of which are framed in The Last Man's radical fictive rejection of romanticism.
The Last Man: Shifting Theater utilizes Shelley's framework of textual and conceptual fragmentation, layering, and adaptation, like prophecies found on scattered leaves in an ancient cave—or more apt to our current time: like the ideas articulated and metamorphosed through aesthetic media. The publication will link Shelley's narrative framework with the interdisciplinary nature of the Pure Fiction's program debuting first at the Kölnischer Kunstverein in the spring of 2022.
ContributorsRosa Aiello, Ellen Yeon Kim, Erika Landström, Concha Mendez (tr. by Aislinn McNamara), Luzie Meyer, Vera Palme, Elif Saydam, Mark von Schlegell, Mikhail Wassmer