The Empire Has Collapsed: Miniature Scenes Illustrate the Post-Apocalypse

Nature begins to take back New York City after all the humans
are gone in this series of artfully photographed
post-apocalypse miniatures. A collaboration between artists
Lori Nix and Kathleen
, ‘Empire’ is the duo’s second series on this theme,
the first focusing on interiors while the latest depicts
exterior scenes. Living in New York provides all the
inspiration the artists need, particularly subway rides between
Brooklyn and Manhattan, and all of the architectural detail
that can be appreciated if you just look up.

Nix is the architect of these tiny structures, while Gerber is
the sculptor. The work is labor-intensive, with a single
diorama taking anywhere from three to fifteen months to
complete. They start each piece in their apartment, and then
move to the outside studio when it’s close to being finished to
set it up for documentation. The lighting and the tiny details
are what give each one its realistic edge.

The materials used include basswood, extruded foam sheets,
acrylic, polymer clay and epoxy. The most challenging aspect of
the work is making those materials look like something else –
for instance, turning a tiny piece of foam and wood into a
leather and steel office chair.

“I don’t really have a death wish, it just seems that way,”
says Nix. “For the last eight years my photographs have
highlighted a fictional urban landscape ‘after’. An aquarium
after a flood, a church after a fire, a beauty parlor after…who
knows what. Mankind is gone and what remains are vacant
fragments of buildings, a few slowly being reclaimed by

“‘The City’ imagines what New York City and Brooklyn would look
like if suddenly mankind had disappeared. The exact cause for
the desertion is left vague. Was it a natural disaster, a
virus, global warming, war? A few images hint at the
destructive history of the space – a library dome crushed by a
tornado or a subway car filled with sand. To me, imagining
something so globally catastrophic is both chilling and
exciting. I often wonder about my own survival instincts when
pondering an emptying city.”

Empire, on the other hand, “presents a world transformed by
climate uncertainty and a shifting social order as it stumbles
towards a new kind of frontier. These places are eerily
beautiful but also unsettling in their stillness and silence.
Long ago, man entered the landscape and forced nature to his
will. Once grand and emblematic of strength and prosperity,
these landscapes now appear abused and in decay, and it is
uncertain how they will continue to (d)evolve.”

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