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Concrete fetishes

Lost futures / futures found


● Fully booked

Monday 20 March 2017
6.30 — 8pm

This event has now ended

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Futures Found

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Trellick Tower tote bag by People Will Always Need Plates

© People Will Always Need Plates

Brutalism thrives in blogs and coffee-table books, but has its radical social agenda been forgotten?

Today, although its monuments are vanishing, Brutalism enjoys a ghostly afterlife. Following decades of official and public contempt, its rehabilitation began when concrete tower blocks featured prominently in 1990s music videos by Britpop groups such as Blur and Suede. This revival continued in mid-2000s blogs by writers such as Owen Hatherley, and today it flourishes in Instagram accounts, soft furnishings, art galleries and coffee-table books.

Meanwhile the buildings themselves have become hot property, changing hands for sums that are far beyond the means of their intended inhabitants. What are the causes of this strange resurgence in Brutalism’s popularity? Is it simply nostalgia, or does it represent a form of opposition to the politics that caused the demolition of so many of its exemplars?

Why does Brutalism seem so at home in new media that are the very opposite of its material ideals? Are its fans interested in the ethic or just the aesthetic, to appropriate the terms that Reyner Banham used to interrogate Brutalism in the 1950s? If it’s the latter, what does this fetishism tell us about our current situation?

Owen Hatherley – Writer, journalist and author of The Ministry of Nostalgia
Professor Victoria Walsh – Head of Curating Contemporary Art, Royal College of Art, and co-curator of New Brutalist Image 1949-1955, Tate Britain
Claire Zimmerman (live stream) – Associate Professor of History of Art and Coordinator of Doctoral Studies in Architecture, Taubman College, University of Michigan, and co-curator of New Brutalist Image 1949-1955, Tate Britain
Tom Wilkinson (chair) – History Editor, Architectural Review, and author of Bricks and Mortals: Ten Great Buildings and the People they Made

● Fully booked

● Cancelled

Monday 20 March 2017

6.30 — 8pm

Geological Society, Piccadilly, W1

£12, £6 concessions. Includes talk and drinks reception.