The machine was at a gallop: marketing geniuses flogging the horse for all it was worth. END OF MILLENNIUM RUN OUT SALE. LAST CHANCE TO BUY AT 20thCENTURY PRICES. YOU WON’T SEE DEALS THIS CRAZY FOR ANOTHER THOUSAND YEARS! It made little sense. 31stDecember 1999 had become a landmark moment for human society, while remaining gloriously irrelevant to the natural world. Pedants would tartlyassert the millennium wasn’t even due to tick over for another year, not that the masses cared about the actual date. The people declared 1999 as the year to celebrate, Prince sang about it, and that was how it would be.
My concept for this work was to document commonplace street scenes using this highly specific moment in time as a point of reference. I would travel for six weeks, through five continents, finishing on New Year’s Eve in Times Square. The photographs are not about the end of the millennium per se: only those from 31stDecember directly relate to it. Peering through a glass in search of myself, these are mere fragments from the spinning mess, where time is laid down at an agonising creep spanning hundreds of centuries.
But underground is the past. Below stairs -
that’s where dust and bone
and pollen and skin and rust and soot and fibre and hair
and splinter and soil are packed hard,
becoming stone, becoming rock, becoming earth.
And not just things we can measure
and weigh, items of proof, material worth,
but sounds and visions,
echoes and views - they lie here in the stone,
jammed into silence
and blackness by time, by its billion billion tons,
time laying down its load.
Excerpt from Killing Time by Simon Armitage