In his metropolitan adaptation of Robinson Crusoe Concrete Island, Ballard relocated the Pacific Ocean to London urban periphery. Waters turned into elevated roads and the jungle island into an asphalt roundabout; a crashed Jaguar replaced the crashed plane. And the main character started his survival in that triangular wasteland of contemporary urban development.
Following this Ballardian conception of self-appropriated ruins, the exhibition CONCRETE ISLANDS focuses on twisted architectural icons, which have fallen into processes of inhabitation, dereliction and destruction. Featuring the work of 5 artists confronting themselves with the post-glamorous phase of different landmarks, we will be almost teleported to Crusoe’s world of utopian and dystopian fiction. In words of curator Elias Redstone, The influence of architects to control space and determine its social structures alters over time. The artists each provoke an emotional response from the architecture as they find it now, adding their own narrative and interpretation, and exposing new relationships between the architecture, society and nature. As the title Concrete Islands suggests, what we find is architecture that exists in some form of isolation – whether that is geographical, social or ideological.
Andreas Angelidakis often introduces fiction and fantasy into his work to reveal truths about architecture. […] Over time it has felt the effects of Athens’ extensive urbanization and deteriorating economy. Angelidakis takes a leap off imagination, suggesting that the accumulation of plants and soil in this garden-housing overtakes the architecture and Chara wants to become a mountain and leave the city altogether. Angelidakis suggests that ruins are just buildings on their way to becoming nature.
Iwan Baan’s images show real life taking place in these two invented cities [Chandigarh and Brasília] that have adapted to everyday social rituals and basic needs. […] In Le Corbusier’s Palace of the Assembly in Chandigarh two men are viewed bathing and dressing themselves through the perforated concrete façade. Whether they live or work in the building is ambiguous, but here they have found a space suitable to conduct their morning routine.
Frédéric Chaubin has been searching for and photographing atypical examples of architecture dating from the late Soviet era. […] The buildings express the dreams of architects that were educated within a strict Soviet system yet, perhaps as a paradox, managed to achieve immense creative freedom in their work. […] His deliberate enhancement of the dramatic dimension to these buildings pays homage to the imagination of those non-conformist architects and underscores the fictional dimension of history.
Le Val-Fourré was built in the 1960s in the Parisian banlieue of Mantes-la-Jolie as a large scale, optimistic project to meet the increased demand for homes in the city. Densely populated, under resourced and poorly integrated with public transport, the residential project has become a place of escalating frustrations and civil unrest since the 1990s. […] (mounir fatmi) focuses on an individual apartment as it is torn down by a bulldozer. The men demolishing the building are as absent from view as its former residents, leaving the social implications of such an act to the imagination. As the architecture is slowly destroyed, nature is revealed.
‘Gan Eden’, a film by Niklas Goldbach, also inverts the relationship between architecture and nature. It was filmed in 2005 in the remains of the Dutch pavilion designed by MVRDV for the World Expo 2000 in Hanover, Germany. The pavilion was intended as a multi-level park but was left to decay when the Expo closed. Goldbach’s film sees two men cruising in the decaying pavilion as an act of re-appropriation. […] Overcome by nature, the pavilion became the park it had always aspired to be.
[1> Andreas Angelidakis, Troll, 2011][2>Iwan Baan, Morning Routine, Le Corbusier, Palace of the Assembly, Chandigarh, 2010][3> Frédéric Chaubin, CCCP Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed via iso50][4> Mounir Fatmi, Architecture Now! États des Lieux#1, 2010-2011, videostill][5>Niklas Goldbach, Gan Eden, 2006, videostill]