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Modern architecture is often associated with the horror genre. In fiction and film, high-rise towers and concrete buildings form the backdrop to terrifying stories of dystopia. Ikon presents new and recent work by 20 UK and international contemporary artists exploring the relationship between architectural modernism and horror. The exhibition takes Birmingham as its starting point, a city renowned for its brutalist architecture. It considers how these artists unpack the troubled histories and legacies of modernist buildings through the lens of horror by linking its tropes (suspense, darkness, fear) with qualities of modernist design. Configured in dialogue with the architecture of Ikon’s galleries, it will take viewers on a journey that highlights how the design and features of a building can shape not only our movement and perception, but also our deepest fears. Ikon gallery

This exhibition perfectly encapsulates my current interests, influences and aesthetic considerations in contemporary art. The references to brutalism, architectural devices, materiality, form/function/texture, terrazzo and fragmentation are all aspects I connect within my own practice.

I especially am interested I the way horror is used as s lens to explore modernist architecture to consider difficult histories of colonialism and how architecture/ social housing has been used to reinforce dictatorships or fascist regimes.

Horror within this shoe functions in a very layered way. There is the aesthetic characteristics, taking reference to popular culture in horror movies e.g., the voyeuristic and fetishised format of architecture. Paired with ominous scores leads to an uncomfortable experience and uneasiness.

There is also the physical horror in cases were forced government schemes in the case of Russia soviet era modernism has fast tracked architectural projects which led to unsafe working conditions and the death of many workers. Such as in the case of Vladimir Shukhov Bell towers. Monika Sosnowska physically references these construction processes by fatiguing the metal forming a destructive sculpture. In a similar way i want my work to also reference historical construction processes such as in my use of terrazzo, making this work a useful reference on how context and material processes can coincide.

Monika Sosnowska, sculpture, 2022

Simon and Tom Bloor

Benches. Way I which artwork can be functional and provide a space for interaction with visitors. Use of materials such as concrete and the clean straight lines within the woods cleverly references modes of modernist architecture. The cast objects brings a narrative into the piece. The remains of a possible previous visitor. Links with the urban environment, possible comment on environmental damage through litter and plastic waste. The cast play with the action of reproductions, making art objects out of throwaway items. Also creates a physical relic of something low value. These ideas and processes perfectly resonate with my own interests. Within my own work I enjoy engaging and referencing the urban environment surrounding me, and find an interest in using found objects, both as art objects themselves, as objects for sculptural reproduction or as aesthetic inspiration for my own sculptural pieces, which often reference colour, texture, form ornately aesthetic considerations.

Simon and Tom Bloor, Benches, 2022

Ruth Claxton

I enjoy the conceptual and controlled forwardness of requesting specific actions for viewers to take when seeing the work. 'Look'. Inviting visitors to use their phone torches or flash creates different playful interactions with the material. In a similar way in which I am to engage visitors, these sculptures interact, change form, colour and texture in response to external stimuli. I take an interest I their fragmented forms as well. The fracturd, fragmented aesthetic. A connection to existing urban artefacts like road signs, but not quite, enough removed and abstracted to produce a more ambigous form and connotations. This piece is quite inspiring when I forming my own choices of material and how the lighting and location of works can further this idea.

Ruth Claxton, sculpture, 2022


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