a hard place

August 19 – September 24

Reception for the artists 6-10pm August 19

@ 500X Gallery: 500 Exposition Ave. Dallas TX 75226

An exhibition of international artists addressing and responding to Brutalist Architecture; a dominant post war architectural movement embodying concepts of utilitarianism and Utopian aspiration.

Curated by Gundula Schmitz (Laura Mars Gallery) and Gary Farrelly.

Featuring: Chris Dreier (DE), Christine Weber (DE), Cunningham Architects (TX), Dirk Krecker (DE), EVOL (DE), Gary Farrelly (IRE/BE), Julia Zinnbauer (DE), Laure Catugier (DE/FR), Matias Bechtold (DE), Oisin Byrne (IRE/UK), Pádraic E. Moore (IRE/BE), ScAle Architects (IT) and Tannhäuser Tor (Alekos Hofstetter (DE) & Florian Göpfert (DE).

A hard place brings together work by artists and architects from Germany, Ireland, France and Italy as well as a piece by Dallas’s Cunningham Architects produced especially for the show. A unifying concern in the work is the legacy of post-war modernist architecture. The artists of a hard place employ highly divergent strategies across a wide variety of media to explore the theme. The exhibition includes video art, photography, drawing, painting, textiles, sculpture, sound recordings and the written word.

In post WWII Europe new civic infrastructure such as housing, factories and administrative facilities had to be erected on an unprecedented scale. Commonly known as Brutalism, the style that emerged was characterized by repeated modular elements articulated and grouped together into a stark, unified whole. Cast concrete was used for its raw and unpretentious honesty and structural integrity.

This new architecture constituted a forceful rejection of preceding political, social and economic thinking. The buildings symbolize the optimism of high modernism. Moreover, they might also be viewed as an affirmation of mankind’s ability to create, improve and reshape the world via practical experimentation, scientific and technical knowledge and human cooperation.

Today, the progress orientated stance and towering utopic mission of post-war modernism is subject to much criticism. The remnants of the defunct modernist project are ever present in the form of neglected edifices that prevail upon our cities and towns. Without a living transformative ideological project to substantiate their presence it is not clear what our responsibility towards the buildings and the ideas they represent should be.

Some of the artists have a very emotional / euphoric relationship with architecture. They adopt a caretaking posture casting themselves as faithful guardians of modernism's legacy. Others take a cynical stance and consciously disavow the naivety and idealism of post-war architecture. And there are those who stake out nuanced, idiosyncratic positions between these two poles. However, in the work of all participating artists in-depth research plays an eminent role.

The city of Dallas, with all its skyscrapers, elevated roadways, hub airports and subterranean tunnels serves as the ideal venue for this exhibition.

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Julia Zinnbauer - "Steady, Smile, Love“ 2014 Still from short film
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Alekos Hofstetter / Florian Göpert - "Høyblokka“, 2014 Crayon, ink, permanent marker on paper, 92 x 56 cm
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Gary Farrelly - "parliament tower [Malaysia]“ 2017 embroidery on commemorative postcard 15 x 10 cm
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Chris Dreier - "AXA Building“ 2017 Pinole photographic print on paper, 120 x 120 cm

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