Contemporary artists shine a light on the haunting aspects of building design

A new exhibition featuring work by 20 contemporary artists is set to explore the relationship between modern architecture and horror.

The show at Birmingham’s Ikon Gallery – based in the Victorian grade II-listed former Oozells Street School, converted by Levitt Bernstein Architects – will include a mix of film, installations, photography, sculpture, textiles, sound and printmaking.

Horror in the Modernist Block curator Melanie Pocock said modern architecture was often associated with the horror genre, pointing to the work of author JG Ballard, such his dystopian 1975 novel High-Rise.

“Today, buildings constructed in the modernist style stir mixed reactions,” she said.

“For some, they are architectural icons; to others, they are haunting relics of failed concepts and bygone eras.”

Ho Tzu Nyen, The Cloud of Unknowing (2011). HD projection, 13 channel sound, smoke machines, floodlights, show control system. Courtesy of the artist and Kiang Malingue Gallery, Hong Kong web

Still from Ho Tzu Nyen’s film The Cloud of Unknowing

Pocock added that in some parts of the world, modernist architecture prompts feelings of fear and trauma because of its link to oppressive political regimes.

Horror in the Modernist Block highlights how the design and features of a building can shape not only people’s movement and perception, but also their deepest fears.

Richard Hughes If Socks Aren’t Pulled Up Heads Will Roll (2009)-2_WEB

Source: Nils Stærk

If Socks Aren’t Pulled Up Heads Will Roll, by Richard Hughes

Among the featured artists are Maria Taniguchi; Ho Tzu Nyen; Richard Hughes; Shezad Dawood; Ruth Claxton; and Diego Marcon.

Horror in the Modernist Block runs at the Ikon Gallery from 25 November to 1 May. Entry will be free.

Shezad Dawood, The Directorate (2019). Tapestry in teak artist’s frame, wallpaper, frame_ 159 x 116 cm. Courtesy of the artist, Jhaveri Contemporary, Mumbai and Timothy Taylor, London. Photo credit_ Sharjah Art Fo

Source: Sharjah Art Foundation

The Directorate, by Shezad Dawood