No Future


“I would rather get back to the dioramas, whose brutal and overwhelming magic is liable to impose a beneficial illusion upon me. […] Precisely because these things are fake, they are infinitely more true.”

A diorama was described in 1932 by Charles Baudelaire as a condensate of the abstract and fictitious artistic space. Here, the poet sees the beneficial illusion that the diorama stages as being truer than reality, in that its construction of reality builds on thoughts and feelings rather than reality’s constricted and solely physical spaces. Cognate questions about what we can understand and what we can see in relation to movement and to the visualization of time, and about how this affects our perception of time and space and reality, are present in <NO FUTURE> by Bernd Oppl, where the image of the diorama stands as the producer of a fictive, albeit a recognizable, place.

The waiting room is a visibly delineated space in the park and stands as the antithesis of the diorama, without the illusion of infinity. It consists of a foundation and two walls, and with its distinctive concrete and coolish interior, presents a contrast to the heterotopic nature of the park. The room has no ceiling and is consequently exposed to rain, snow and dazzling rays of sunlight. As a scenography typical of today’s transit spaces, the waiting room contains a bench, an empty frame and a door opening out to the park, as well as the work Echo by Elisabeth Molin; this displays a clock on the wall, albeit without clock hands or numerals, but instead with a mirror that reflects the moment instead of telling the time.  A camera records a time-lapse video during the whole year, which frames the waiting room as a stage set, a place where leaves will fall and dust, insects and animals from the park will enter the waiting room.

In <NO FUTURE>, the diorama has been turned inside out and you can see nature outside, observing the frozen scenario transpiring inside the waiting room. Rather than staging a static space that lies beyond time, the surroundings mark their presence. The shadows from the trees will visually interweave into the work’s scenography, while the park’s occupants gradually become narrators of the room and video.

The displacement of time, hovering between the waiting room’s vacuum of standing outside time and the rhythmic and continuous changing of the park’s surroundings, turns the analogy of the waiting room into an entropic place for playing with time as a construction and an idea. The waiting room’s mirror-clock reflects the surroundings and refers to a non-time, to the present ‘now’ moment, to a moment of temporal stasis, while the ecological and cyclical time that are latent in the season’s changes and that will recur in the park over the coming years, will gradually bring the room into harmony with its surroundings.

In the video work, time is eternally present while the room is simultaneously perceived as lying outside time. And time is accordingly, like space, displaced in the artwork. Over the next few years, the waiting room will come to exist as a ruin of the unfinished, both in the process of fading away and also about to become something new. It is through this ruin that we can reflect on our past, just as the ruin plays a part in contextualizing our present.

Nina Wöhlk