The end of the world in gifs

'What if the bombs fall?' from 'Now I am Become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds.'

'What if the bombs fall?' from 'Now I am Become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds.'

Animator and performer Kelley Meister premieres a new piece about nuclear disaster this Wednesday at Bryant-Lake Bowl. The work features hand-drawn animations, a live sound score, and interactive performance.

Last Vacation before the end of the World will take you on a ride of "horror, fear, and dread, but also intrigue, fascination, and even the nonchalance that comes with the very real threat of nuclear war,”  Meister says.

We’ve got some GIFS to give you a little taste.

The new animation has been in the works since early 2016, though ze (Meister uses ze/hir pronouns) started some of the initial drawings way back in 2012 after researching nuclear weapons, power, and waste.

“As an artist, I am concerned with human interaction,” Meister says in an email, “and war is one of those interactions that I can and cannot wrap my head around. I keep coming back to it in my work, processing it in different ways.”

In hir past work, Meister has often incorporated a kind of exchange with audiences. For example, in a piece performed during the Pleasure Rebel series, also at the Bryant-Lake Bowl, ze drew 85 drawings about living in a nuclear world while audience members read aloud a series of letters that Meister had written to friends, family, politicians, and activists. At the end of the show, ze distributed the drawings to the crowd.

For a piece Meister performed at Queertopia in 2012, ze used archival footage from the Department of Energy in combination with a performance drawing of a nuclear bomb exploding. A year later, ze created an animation after visiting the Ronald Reagan Historic Nuclear Missile Site in North Dakota.

“It was really surreal to go inside a missile launch center and see the workings up close,” Meister says.

For Last Vacation, Meister went back to all the materials gathered over the past six years of work, and used them to create a solo performance with audience participation, animated material, and live music by Jaffa Aharonov.

By asking the audience to prepare for imminent nuclear strike (they'll be creating emergency kits and stocking up for a fallout shelter), Meister hopes to explore what will happen when bombs do fall. These days, with a new cold war looming on the horizon, it’s timely to meditate on how we would survive in the worst-case scenario of nuclear catastrophe.


Last Vacation before the end of the World
Bryant-Lake Bowl
7 p.m. doors Wednesday, June 14
$8-$15 sliding scale