With the fire at the Museu Nacional of Brazil on 2nd September 2018 as its core premise, Deserts, Voids, and Disrepair: A Critical Reader strives to question what happens after a repository is destroyed.
Civilisation is understood primarily in regards to the material culture and knowledge that has been produced throughout the centuries, but above all, through all the remains that have superseded cycles of destruction. These fragments are often collected, arranged, classified, and categorised in spaces dedicated to their protection, conservation, and preservation. Nevertheless, we now live in a time where museums and cathedrals are burning to the ground; where monuments and relics are being pulverised into oblivion, and so it is imperative that we acknowledge this fragility and the multiple ways it affects our understanding of culture and civilisation overall.
The reader, then, comes as an attempt to do so. It exists as a book, wall, vitrine, and shelf, simultaneously; as a moment of tension between logic and fantasy, and a space of both containment and dispersal. It stands as a memento mori because in a time when civilization itself is paving the way towards its own destruction, conserving the contemporary comes as a means of critical resistance.