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Brutalism 2k18 What the F**k is Going On?

Title slide of my presentation. Image of the doomed Birmingham Central Library, June 2015. Photo by A.M.
Last week I spoke at the Nonument Symposium in Ljubljana, focussing on the way that 'Brutalism' is used and abused in contemporary culture. The renewed cult popularity of Brutalism is a phenomenon I've been observing with a mixture of fascination, enjoyment, ambivalence and disgust for some time and the lecture had a packed agenda. It was an attempt to try and decode the various agendas and interests circling around Brutalism and to track them. I analysed a range of examples, from internet culture to contemporary design to industrial music to science-fiction.  Brutalism as a (life)style or even an attitude is arguably more 'sexy' and, for some, virtuous than ever, yet many of its most iconic structures are now being demolished or de-brutalised through cladding - a term now synonymous with the horror of the Grenfell Tower fire.

Image of the doomed Birmingham Central Library, June 2015. Photo by A.M.

All this raises many questions. Is there any stable, agreed perception of what Brutalism means and has it been systematically appropriated from the architectural community?

'The White Heat of Birmingham'. Photo by A.M.
How do discussions around Brutalism interact with and contribute to the digital and cultural wars that mark our reality? Who 'owns' it and who profits from it? What does it reveal and what does it conceal?

Image of the doomed Birmingham Central Library, June 2015. Photo by A.M.
I'll be returning to the subject in future, but for now, here are some slides expressing the key arguments I made. Many thanks to MOTA for organising a fascinating event.

Brutal(ist) winter in Ljubljana, February 2018. , June 2015. Photo by A.M.

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