AWAY WITH brutus

Materiality of emptiness, materiality of potential and negative space.

Brutalist architecture, or Brutalism, is an architectural style that emerged in the mid-20th century and gained popularity in the late 1950s and 1960s. It descended from the modernist architectural movement of the late 19th century and of the first half of the 20th century and is characterized by simple, block-like structures that often feature bare building materials. Exposed concrete is favored in construction; however, some examples are primarily made of brick. Though beginning in Europe, Brutalist architecture can now be found around the world. The style has been most commonly used in the design of institutional buildings, such as libraries, courts, public housing and city halls.

 

From the thinking behind my last project on the robin hood gardens, I began to think of the feeling surrounding the brutalist architecture, how it’s something that people tend to go against. 

 

Away with Brutus – the un-superior style

 

One argument is that this criticism exists in part because concrete façades do not age well in damp, cloudy maritime climates such as those of northwestern Europe and New England. In these climates, the concrete becomes streaked with water stains and sometimes with moss and lichens, and rust stains from the steel reinforcing bars.

 

"spiritual, intellectual, and moral deformity.","cold-hearted", "inhuman", "hideous", and "monstrous”, does not age gracefully but instead crumbles, stains, and decays"

These images are altered versions of the files from concrete.rip. All images represent a telescoped view of concrete pieces retrieved from the Library after it's demolishment.

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Hemingway 1, 2020
Digital work, screenprint on paper
100x150 cm

jpg2.jpg

King 1, 2020
Digital work, screenprint on paper
100x150 cm

purple.jpg

Hemingway 2, 2020
Digital work, screenprint on paper
100x150 cm

jpg1.jpg

King 2, 2020
Digital work, screenprint on paper
100x150 cm

These files have also been screen printed onto paper and fabric. Both 100x150cm although unavailable to make digital at the moment due to lack of access to facilities.

Below are some images taken during this proccess.

King 1, 2020
Digital work, screenprint on paper
100x150 cm

"A manifesto against Brutalism, that explores the concepts of the materiality of emptiness and the negative space as a potential field of creation.

The artist explores a telescopic view of the concrete remains of an old brutalist library, revealing its interiority – a ludic approach if we take into consideration that Brutalism is already characterised by the use of exposed concrete. Though seemingly solid on the outside, its interior resembles a mass in mutation or in a process of dissolution, an image that evokes the rejection this architectonic style suffered. In fact, even though brutalist public buildings and housing complexes were designed to better serve the needs of the working class, this movement was gradually scorned. Their mass translates a feeling of permanence that contrasts with the way in which these big linear blocks of repetitive patterns and stocked floors were demolished or abandoned.

Even though they seem to be hard to destroy or alter, Carmo Pinheiro de Melo changes the traces of these spaces, through the digital medium, by transforming its materiality. Deconstructing the notions of solidity associated with concrete, as well as the generalised conception that it is a poor and oppressive material, the artist questions its essence by giving it an alternative look – vibrant, disarmed and harmonious. In this sense, her work gives body to the emptiness, that is, to a space that is no longer present and an object that no longer exists, thus valuing it. It is then through the negative space that Carmo Pinheiro de Melo subverts the characteristics of this material, destabilising our understanding of it."

Ana Begonha, curator, 2020