Lots of empty chairs facing a sunrise.

Nick Crowe and Ian Rawlinson, Song for Armageddon, 2017 © Nick Crowe and Ian Rawlinson. Courtesy the artists and University of Salford Art Collection

Nick Crowe and Ian Rawlinson, Song for Armageddon

Year: 2017
Medium: Digital video
Dimensions: 50m 23s running time
Brief biography: Crowe, b. 1968, Barnsley, UK; Rawlinson, b. 1965, Macclesfield, UK.


Armageddon is a place in northern Israel that lends its name to the end of the world. A UNESCO World Heritage Site known by its modern name Tel Megiddo, Armageddon is thought to have seen more battles than any other location in the world, and dominated the the crossroads of ancient trade and military routes linking Egypt with Mesopotamia.

A hellish sodium-lit environment provides the setting for Nick Crowe and Ian Rawlinson’s video installation, Song for Armageddon, shot on location at Tel Megiddo and made in collaboration with Israeli composer Ophir Ilzetzki. Over one night, a group of workers endlessly set out and wipe down thousands of chairs to create a large auditorium for an unknown audience, waiting for sunrise.

Song for Armageddon engages with Tel Megiddo’s remarkable heritage but also elaborates on historical confusion between place and event. The film loops every 17 minutes, creating a powerful visual and acoustic meditation that culminates with a haunting performance by singer Faye Shapiro.

Nick Crowe and Ian Rawlinson, born in Barnsley and Macclesfield respectively, work collaboratively between studios in Berlin and Manchester. Working together since 1994, they are fascinated by spectacle and drawn to the ways in which power and authority articulate themselves, their works often combining densely layered visual and acoustic allusions to faith, politics, national identity and the environment.

“In an age of Trump, Putin and climate change, with globalisation and wars – civil and otherwise – racking the globe, this work is a chance to return to the source of ‘end times’ iconography. Armageddon is a nexus of metaphysics and geopolitics.” – Nick Crowe and Ian Rawlinson

Nick Crowe and Ian Rawlinson have been collaborating since 1994, living and working in Manchester and Berlin. Crowe Rawlinson have been drawn to the ways in which power and authority articulate themselves, to the grammar and rhetoric that surrounds them. Their works often combine densely layered visual and acoustic allusions to faith, politics, national identity and the environment. They are interested in spectacle and its cultural effects and have made work derived from military and biblical sources, from memorials and the uses of public space and most recently from the legacies of the nuclear and coal industries.

In 2014, their acclaimed work Song for Coal was exhibited at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, UK and received global press attention and acclaim from a range of online, print and broadcast media including the Financial Times, BBC Radio 3, Aesthetica and Hunger TV. Crowe and Rawlinson’s video and sculptural works have been exhibited widely within the UK and internationally, including commissioned projects with Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, UK (2015); Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, UK (2013); Platforma Revólver, Lisbon, Portugal (2012); SALT, Istanbul, 2012 and Institute of Jamais Vu, London, UK (2012). Crowe and Rawlinson were also selected for the Northern Art Prize in 2009.

Artists’ website:
Nick Crowe & Ian Rawlinson


Song for Armageddon was produced by Forma and premiered at BALTIC, Gateshead, UK in September 2017. The film was created by Nick Crowe and Ian Rawlinson in collaboration with Ophir Ilzetzki in 2016–17; cinematography by Martin Testar. Commissioned by Forma and University of Salford Art Collection, in association with BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art. Supported by Arts Council England.