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In the Mexican context, there is a recurring presence of narratives and images depicting annihilation, apocalypse, or extinction scenarios. These narratives form a complex tapestry that, woven through various dimensions embedded in cultural systems, influences how events are perceived and narrated as experiences marking the end of time. To delve into this intricate interplay, the Käte Hamburger Centre for Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Studies at Heidelberg University, in collaboration with the Instituto National de Antropología e Historia, is organizing the exhibition “Imagining the End of Time: Stories of Annihilation, Apocalypse, and Extinction” at the National Museum of Anthropology and History in Mexico City. 

The exhibition aims to explore the multifaceted aspects of a complex cosmopoetic and cosmopolitical scenario. It takes contemporary narratives surrounding the "Great Acceleration" as a starting point, investigating how these narratives manifest in cataclysmic imaginaries and apocalyptic depictions rooted in modern storytelling. These modern narratives, influenced by the Judeo-Christian eschatological tradition, served as a modulating force in Mesoamerican consciousness within the Mexican context.

A substantial portion of present-day stories and representations attribute a potential sixth mass extinction episode to the phenomenon known as the Great Acceleration. Within this framework, factors labeled as anthropogenic form a network of various contributors, collectively suggesting a scenario where the Earth System is envisioned on the brink of annihilation. The narratives surrounding the Great Acceleration, shaped by a consciousness influenced by the concept of universal time, are believed to document the rise and crisis of the modern world. Nevertheless, in certain instances, a distinctive form of connection emerges. This connection If these narratives manifest in cataclysmic imaginaries and apocalyptic depictions rooted in modern storytelling. These modern narratives, influenced by the Judeo-Christian eschatological tradition, served as a modulating force in Mesoinvolves fossilized life forms’ remnants, combined with expressions from diverse aesthetic dimensions, forming an experiential and communicative sphere. This sphere paints a picture of the multitude of mechanisms that contribute to the formation of a poetic expression centered around annihilation.

Plakat Mexico

In the Nahua tradition within the Mesoamerican context, the concept of the end of time is rooted in mythical stories passed down through various practices. These stories, embedded in numerous narratives, were highlighted in various codices. By deriving meaning from cosmo-historical dimensions, these codices shaped the way certain events are remembered in modern consciousness. Termed as visions, where diverse events are seen as apocalyptic, these depictions seem to draw from a mythical past and later integrate into a historical consciousness, being recognized as omens of future events. Various depictions, emerging at the intersection of cosmogonic and historical dimensions, were used to describe the destruction of the Mesoamerican world. They were also reshaped within discursive mechanisms originating in other consciousnesses, acquiring post-apocalyptic dimensions. In Christian eschatology, the Book of Revelation, also known as the Apocalypse of John, is particularly significant in shaping beliefs about the end of the world and the establishment of God’s final kingdom. John’s visions on the island of Patmos are symbolic units that, as they traverse multiple spheres of perception, conceptualization, and symbolization of time, contribute to the emergence of eschatological awareness in the Novo-Hispanic sphere. Thus, through various adaptation mechanisms, the apocalyptic narrative complex extends beyond the narrative boundaries of the Book of Revelation, encompassing other experiences of annihilation.


In the Mexican context, various imaginaries emerging from modern apocalyptic consciousness are intertwined with catastrophic events, allowing for the exploration of a broad spectrum of depictions concerning the eventual decline of the modern project. These narratives articulate a nuanced amalgamation of poetics and cataclysmic representations, shaping scenarios of catastrophic events that permeate modern imaginaries. Expressed through diverse means, these stories acquire cosmopoetic dimensions, seemingly rooted in the apocalyptic axioms generated by pre-modern eschatologies. Among the diverse forms through which these conceptions manifest are scenarios depicting atomic annihilation or various catastrophes associated with the collapse of the modern project. 

While contemporary individual and collective consciences may not operate within Mesoamerican apocalyptic cosmological frameworks, cosmological elements consistently shape narratives and depictions in the cultural context of Mexico. Stories of earthquakes, epidemics, and other catastrophic events still portray the collapse of spaces. For instance, in Rarámuri traditions, a unique connection with cosmic forces is apparent, and Wixárika narratives blend Amerindian and Christian traditions, highlighting the systematic and periodic recreation of the world through rituals. Together, these depictions outline a complex imaginary realm filled with diverse tales of annihilation, apocalypse, and extinction. 

Ernesto Muñiz’s artwork, titled “Coronavirgen” (2023), emerged as a deliberate challenge to the Catholic faith by drawing inspiration from the ongoing environmental crisis. Through the collage technique, Muñiz crafted an image of the Virgin, featuring an oxygen mask and substituting the sacred heart with the representation of SARS-CoV-2. Since 2010, the artist has employed this technique to create pieces that juxtapose celestial figures with earthly elements. Muñiz chose to display the initial version of this artwork on the street just a day before the global confinement prompted by the widespread transmission of SARS-CoV-2 was announced. For the artist, this image served as a prelude to both the end and the beginning of a new era, incorporating a reference to planet Earth to underscore the global scale of the unfolding catastrophe.

Ernesto Muñiz: Coronavirgen, 2023 | Collage | Private collection, Mexico


A 1959 artwork by Adolfo Quinteros captures a scene where a man, a woman, and an infant appear to be fleeing from an explosion. In the foreground, a woman embraces a man and a child in a desolate setting, while in the background, a prominently depicted mushroom cloud suggests a nuclear explosion. The artwork, titled “The Last Warning”, hints at a potential apocalyptic event, as suggested by the title and depicted scenario.

Adolfo Quinteros: El último aviso, 1959 |Wood engraving in black ink on paper | Collection Academia de Artes, Mexico


Especially for artists like Antonio Luquín, who views modernity as a reference that implies a temporality and, con-sequently, a finite point, depictions of extinction are shaped by processes associated with ideas of progress, science, and development. These processes transform into entities that generate images filled with nostalgia for the remnants of civilization. Civilization is often portrayed as a graveyard of objects that once symbolized humanity’s core values. In these settings of vanished worlds, science, alongside other tenets of modern Western culture, becomes a part of a figurative realm after its depletion. Thus, through the landscapes, Luquín creates portraits of a space marked by its expiration—an illustration aiming to encapsulate the imaginations of extinction. 

Antonio Luquín: Los herederos de la tierra, 2017 | Oil on canvas | Collection Galería Urbana, Mexico


In a vaguely defined space created by various elements, a prominent upright figure with human-like features interacts with other elements in the image. Notably, two entities with skull-like shapes stand out. One appears suspended in the air, while the second lies on a supportive surface, enclosed within a kind of showcase. The space between these three entities is made up of vibrant colors that, while separating them, also creates a sense of proximity. Surrounding this interaction is a space defined by a relatively stable surface, yet filled with small elements that hint at organic existence. The scene’s background is shaped by a seemingly flat surface outlining the place’s depth, and a rectangular gap suggests another space, creating an impression of infinite depth. Thus, Arturo Miranda Videgaray’s artwork, titled “Encuentros” (2009), portrays a world comprised of vaguely identifiable entities existing at the edge of definition, yet collectively forming a distinctive whole.

Arturo Miranda Videgaray: Encuentros, 2009 | Acrylic on canvas | Estudio Arturo Miranda Videgaray, Mexico