Review of The Nihilists by Emma Geliot

Excerpt of Emma Geliot’s review of The Nihlists. The full article is available on Culture Colony.

As dusk began to gather over the mountain, figures in stout boots and wet weather gear began to converge on the sheep-dotted hillside.[…]

Caddick had installed two light works that had their own built-in power generation. The first, a series of LED signs, each with it’s own wind turbine, spelled out the words “WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE”. The second, a good mile’s yomp away, set next to a little stream that drove the power turbine, spelled out “NO FUTURE”, a nod to Malcolm McLaren. The fluctuations in the power generated made these works pulse and glow in the gathering gloom.

Meanwhile, dotted around the bracken-y dell, Lovett (on drums), Watson (electro-knob twiddling) and Ottley (Cello), riffed of each other and the natural sounds for over an hour without pause. I tried to figure out if they were responding to the excited shrieks of the children making bracken weapons and generally cavorting about, or if they picked up the increasingly loud disco beats coming from pubs and nightclubs towns far below, but mostly I just tried to tune out the extraneous sounds and go with what they were doing.

Now hiking across a mountain in frankly unsuitable clothing (I was better prepared for the Karaoke at the foot of the mountain) and with not even a chunk of Kendall Mint Cake, coming across the message that we’re all going to die could have been a little distressing. But here, in this landscape that’s been around since it was thrust out of the Earth’s crust, it was simply a reminder that in World History terms, we’re all dead in the blink of a gnat’s wotsit. Perhaps it was the cheery red little lights that picked out the words, but I felt strangely reassured by this.

Caddick’s interest in text and its meanings has been on-going. Here, presented out of any original context, nestling in clumps of bracken with a constantly shifting skyscape above them, his messages take on multiple meanings. In a gallery they’d be read as either provocative statements or as decorative slogans with cultural references for those who chose to look for them (and would have to be powered by other means). Here they become something else, particularly as they are directly connected to the landscape they occupy by their power-sources.


All in all a magical night, with only a momentary splatter of rain, only mildly tarnished by theft of the much-needed flapjacks from the tea trestle back at the car park.