Brut Kok : Distorted Landscapes, Future Ruins and Spirit Houses
Artist residency at Chulalongkorn University 2013
Exhibition 24-29 September 2013
of ancient beliefs, practices and rituals”
Brut Kok projects an alternative future for Bangkok where the city is abandoned; tourists visit to wonder at a strange civilization. Subverting the romanticism of ruins by examining recent examples of architectural ruin instead of the palaces, temples and ancient ruins that have been preserved for tourist or nationalistic purposes.
The exhibition featured a variety of two and three dimensional work including industrial light boxes, blueprints of urban graffiti and sculptural interventions made on a series of walks and alternative spirit houses that celebrate the abandoned buildings that can be found in the city.
Gareth’s intention is to challenge the boundaries of reportage illustration through the physicality of mark making. In the series Distorted Landscapes postcard images are manipulated through the scanning process to distort the landscape and then presented on light boxes similar to the sort of shop signs found in Bangkok. The process of construction and destruction in the city fascinates Gareth, for him it is as important as a completed piece of architecture. The acts of drawing becoming suspended in a moment in time just like the abandoned buildings that fill our cities. Gareth says, “What becomes apparent as you explore the city of Bangkok is that you don’t need to go to Ayutthaya to see the ancient ruins; they are already looming over you. The buildings of today are the ruins of tomorrow".
A walk between the Skytrain stations at Chit Lom and National Stadium can be made without touching street level. The journey is recorded through ‘street tags’ presented as blueprints. Throughout the residency Gareth took walks through the city and would re-arrange street found debris, recording it through photography before presenting as Blueprints in the exhibition. He is interested in ‘Bricolage’, the way that an animist society arranges the objects of life into a self contained logic that bewilders outsiders, objects are read as signs to signpost the ritual lifestyle of a fictional Bangkok.
Gareth has produced a series of Saan Phra Phum (spirit houses) that reference construction sites and the transferable nature of everyday street materials, they are monuments to the un-built voids that occupy the landscape. Referencing minimalist form they playfully imagine an evolution of spirit house design. The sculptures feature bricks and stones found in the street, either cast in resin or covered in gold leaf, ceramic structures that appear on the verge of collapse and scaffolding systems that have no clear function.
Gareth’s artist practice explores a sense of place through our relationship with architecture. He is fascinated with the concept of Utopia especially now that the very act of dreaming, or considering a brighter future has become, in itself, an act of nostalgia. His work begins by walking to specific sites and collecting rubbings, the aim is to re-examine modernism and to consider the utopian ideology imbued in the fabric of these buildings.
Gareth also gave an interview to the Bangkok post: