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What is Happening to Our Architecture?

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Reuben Moss, Tomorrow Tomorrow at Gambia Castle Reuben Moss, Tomorrow (detail) Tomorrow (detail) Tomorrow (detail) Tomorrow (detail) Tomorrow (detail)

While on one level, Moss's installation could be just a furious gesture (like for example: 'This country is a fucking shithole!'), it actually seems to be much more focussed than that. Obviously he is very interested in urban social history, the physical and conceptual structures that communities build in response to their various needs, and the value of sharing resources.

Auckland

 

Reuben Moss
Tomorrow

 

3 September - 25 September 2010

Reuben Moss’s project here, a non-functional lavatory (I assume that, though I wasn’t prepared to test it), by pure coincidence acquires extra meaning through the event of the Christchurch earthquake. As you can see this exhibition opened the day before that historic event, and linking title with exhibit, is clearly a sarcastic comment on the state of New Zealand’s public architecture. The public dunny has been transported up to the Gambia Castle first floor space in pieces and a veneer of lumpy concrete walls constructed to make a grotty little WC that has been painted a hideous blue-grey.

In the room are two radios that play transmissions beamed to them from a ‘station’ in the office. I detected two items. One seemed to be a fuzzy recording of Linda Tyler (I’m guessing, it sounded like her) talking about the nature of architecture in downtown Auckland, and the other less distorted item was somebody (the artist?) reading an article about the history of the Consumer Cooperative Society and its stormy interactions with the Labour government (William Robertson versus Walter Nash) in the late forties.

Clearly the artist has his own imperatives for making this show, perhaps a disillusionment with inner city architecture, the quality of civic amenities and the dangers of privatisation and user pays. With the recent earthquake, his cracked and shabby civic outhouse seems to allude to a potential problem for Christchurch, where buildings could be erected quickly without thought of the long term consequences for the wider communities that use them.

While on one level, Moss’s installation could be just a furious gesture (like for example: ‘This country is a fucking shithole!’), it actually seems to be much more focussed than that. Obviously he is very interested in urban social history, the physical and conceptual structures that communities build in response to their various needs, and the value of sharing resources. And because all architecture is in fact public (it can never be private in an urban context), the alarming effects created by poorly thought out, selfish buildings has driven him to make this project - with the sting in its title.

John Hurrell

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This Discussion has 2 comments.

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Reuben Moss, 9:15 a.m. 25 September, 2010

Here is the broadcast, it is a radio documentary I produced, not about Auckland as such, but Naenae in the Upper Hutt....
http://www.archive.org/details/TheParadeOfTheOldNew

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John Hurrell, 9:14 a.m. 26 September, 2010

Thanks for this Reuben.It's very helpful. In a gallery situation 80 minutes is a long time to stand around listening, and to try and connect your audio content with the toilet. Good to have this link here.

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