FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  7/29/09           

Patricia Blaufuss, Press Representative

Aggregate: Art and Architecture – a Brutalist Remix
at Westport Arts Center September 25 through November 22

The Westport Arts Center will present Aggregate:  Art and Architecture – a Brutalist Remix, Friday, September 25 through Sunday, November 22.  WAC will host a public opening reception on Friday, September 25, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at WAC’s main gallery, 51 Riverside Avenue, Westport, Connecticut.

Aggregate: Art and Architecture -- a Brutalist Remix is a new contemporary art exhibition designed to encourage fresh conversations about the impact of Brutalist architecture on society. Aggregate is an art exhibition inspired by the twentieth-century architectural movement of Brutalism, including concrete architecture in the shoreline region of Connecticut.  The show features sculptures, videos, photography, prints, and documents that reflect, evaluate, and expand upon Brutalism’s monumental forms, social goals, materials, and mixed receptions. The exhibition explores aspects of Brutalism by including artists who remix these qualities in ways that complicate or comment on them.  Brutalist architects aspired, in part, to create buildings that conveyed the visual immediacy of sculpture and were often designed to surprise, uplift, and challenge their users.  Aggregate, through a combination of artworks and documents, asks visitors to look at the nuances of this, sometimes polarizing, twentieth-century architectural style.

Aggregate makes a metaphor of concrete, “a collection of items that are gathered together to form a total quantity” and the sand, gravel and crushed stone that is added to the chemical mix and water when making concrete.  In this specific mix of artworks and architecture, individual works maintain their unique character and intentions. Some artists make literal use of concrete and the metaphorical meanings it possesses.  Others touch on these Brutalist ideas through subject matter, narrative, political re-contextualization, or allegory. 

The exhibition will include works from Alterazioni Video’s Incompiuto Siciliano project; a site-specific outdoor sculpture by David Brooks; selections from Nancy Davenport’s photographic series titled Campus;  Cyprien Gaillard’s video, The Smithsons ; Andreas Kornfeld’s Polaroid photographs of key buildings in the region; architectural/sculptural drawings by Fawn Krieger; Chris Mottalini photographs from his series after you left, they took it apart; Jo Nigoghossian’s concrete sculptures; Martha Rosler’s video How Do We Know What Home Looks Like?; Heather Rowe’s sculpture Through the Glass.  Related documents will also be on view, lending context to the exhibition through architectural history and recent events.

The exhibition is curated by Terri C. Smith, Westport Arts Center’s Director of Visual Arts.  Prior to that she was the Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at Cheekwood Museum of Art in Nashville, Tennessee, where she worked for 12 years, developing an award-winning program for contemporary art in the Southeast and receiving a Warhol Grant before returning to school. She then received her Masters from the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College in 2008. Smith has curated over seventy shows, working with such artists as Tim Davis, Roe Ethridge, Kerry James Marshall, Robert Ryman, Donald Sultan, Cheyney Thompson, and Zhang Huan.

The Westport Arts Center is a visual and performing arts organization dedicated to creating arts experiences that enrich the lives of area residents and the entire community.  The Westport Arts Center is supported with funds from the Artur and Heida Hermanns Holde Foundation, Inc., Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism, Fairfield County Bank, Gault, Inc., U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management, Westport Sunrise Rotary Young Voices Program, and Xerox Foundation.

For information contact Westport Arts Center at 203-222-7070 or go to the website at  Gallery hours are M-F, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sat. and  Sun. from noon to 4 p.m., at 51 Riverside Avenue, Westport.



some additional press notes i love...

The exhibition’s theme was inspired by the concrete architecture in the shoreline region of Connecticut -- a place where large, bulky buildings insert themselves into idyllic, suburban settings. After moving to the area, Aggregate’s curator, Westport Arts Center’s Director of Visual Arts Terri C. Smith, was struck by this incongruity. After some research, Smith became aware of the region’s rich, historic connections to Brutalism, especially the teaching and designs of architects such as Paul Rudolph, Louis Kahn, and John Johansen, all of whom had stints at Yale. The result is an exhibition that simultaneously explores the legacy of an international architectural movement (as with an apartment building by Le Corbusier documented by artist Martha Rosler) and the history of regional architecture (such as a Paul Rudolph house in Westport photographed by Chris Mottalini) through the lenses of contemporary artists and documentation of recent histories. The show’s title references a dominant material in Brutalist architecture -- concrete. Aggregate makes a metaphor of concrete, “a collection of items that are gathered together to form a total quantity” and the sand, gravel and crushed stone that is added to the chemical mix and water when making concrete.

Artists in Aggregate range from emerging to established, including Alterazioni Video, David Brooks, Nancy Davenport, Cyprien Gaillard, Andreas Kornfeld, Fawn Krieger, Chris Mottalini, Jo Nigoghossian, Martha Rosler and Heather Rowe. Through the works of these artists, Aggregate asks questions about how this type of architecture might challenge our expectations of beauty, good design, and useability. Perhaps the most telling work in the show is a tiny assemblage by Fawn Krieger titled Felt Architecture. In it, pieces of red and white felt crisscross on a blue background. Its title aptly represents Aggregate as it reflects both materiality of and emotional responses to architecture. Felt Architecture speaks to the honest use of materials by putting the medium’s name in the title itself. Felt is also the past tense of the verb to “feel” implying that architecture is not just viewed or used, but is tactile and emotional. Of all the twentieth-century architectural movements, few have surpassed Brutalism’s frank use of materials and ability to elicit strong emotion in its users. By asking viewers to look more broadly at the intentions as well as the successes and failures of an often maligned (cold, ugly, aggressive) component of twentieth century architecture, Aggregate encourages us to take a fresh look at both distant and familiar environments.

  terri, the curator, speaking at the opening reception:  
  above: terri, between heather rowe  
  kibbitzing around my work  
  photos below by terri  
  above, sparkles' installation