Souvenirs for The End of the Century started in 1997 as a three-year-long project, a Boym studio’s response to the eagerly anticipated celebrations of the New Millennium. Recognizing that the end ofthe century generates a particular mood of introspection, a desire to look back and to reminiscence, we decided to create limited editions of unusual souvenirs based on the Century’s troubled history.
The idea was to re-issue the catalogue for three years, and to stop production after the century’sofficial end on December 31, 2000. The edition of every souvenir was thus to be limited, and we numbered all pieces. The spread of the mailing list was facilitated by a non-stop press and media coverage, often ironic and not very flattering. Yet even sarcastic reviews always brought more orders.
Fathers of Modern Art was a collection of miniature sculptural busts, made of bonded marble. Portraits of these high priests of Modernism in art, architecture, and culture looked amusingly displaced in the populist format of little busts.
The most controversial – and the most successful – among the souvenirs was a collection called Buildings of Disaster, the monuments of tragic or terrible events. Some of these buildings may have been prized architectural landmarks, others – non-descript anonymous structures. But disasterchanges everything. The images of burning or exploded buildings make a different, populist history of architecture, one based on emotional involvement rather than on scholarly appreciation.
In the weeks that followed the tragic day of September 11, 2001, to our amazement, we got inundated with requests for the souvenirs, specifically for our old sold-out miniatureof the 1993 World Trade Center explosion. Orders came even from former occupants of the Twin Towers who survived the deadly attack. Obviously, there was a real emotional need there, and it had to be fulfilled.
After much hesitation and soul-searching, we made a decision to re-issue the 1993 World Trade Center miniature as a fund-raising effort, donating the proceeds to charity. Later that year, we produced the September 11 Memorial Set, which included a new miniature of the Center, and one of the Pentagon. Presently, the editions of Buildings of Disaster continue with more new monuments. Please visit our online store for more information.