This Russian Artist Transformed His Disquieting Sculptures Into a Haunting Virtual Storybook for the Social-Distancing Era

Still of "Perjury" from the "Apocalypse Book." Courtesy of ARTHOUSE2050.

Just in time for the last months of 2020, the Russian artist Vasily Klyukin has debuted The Apocalypse Book,” a virtual storybook that delves into weighty, dark subjects from personal sins to global crises. 

The disquieting project, which combines animation, audio storytelling, photography of Klyukin’s sculptures, and text, came about when the artist was unable to move forward with an IRL exhibition. Earlier this year, Klyukin had installed a monumental set of sculptures known as In Dante Veritas on a cliffside in Lucerne, Switzerland. The group of towering, anthropomorphic stainless steel figures was inspired by the wrenching story of Dante’s Inferno along with what the artist considers the new global threats, with works titled Overpopulation, Misinformation, Pollution, and Extermination

"Art Panorama" in Lucerne, Switzerland.

“Art Panorama” in Lucerne, Switzerland.

The artist first debuted the series at Saint Petersburg’s State Russian Museum in 2018; the new installation, which featured panoramic views overlooking the city’s famed lake, was intended to facilitate an interactive engagement with the works called Art Panorama.

Still of "Dante's Mask" from "Apocalypse Book." Courtesy of ARTHOUSE2050.

Still of “Dante’s Mask” from “Apocalypse Book.” Courtesy of ARTHOUSE2050.

But then, the spring came—and the world was suddenly put on pause. With access to the installation limited, the artist began to wonder how he could translate his sculptures to the online universe. Klyukin tapped into the works’ inherent narrative powers and set about creating “Apocalypse Book: Sins Guide.”

The resulting virtual book is divided into clickable chapters that each relate to a specific “sin” and the sculptures designed to express it. The interactive book, available in 11 languages, pulls participants in with narrated, poem-like verses about each of the deadly sins and a whirlwind of images. 

Click into “Apocalypse Book” here.   

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