The New Brutalists

Jane & Louise Wilson’s digital photograph The New Brutalists, 2004, was created by the artists in reaction to a proto-feminist suffragette image taken in 1910 that was included in a 1953 Architectural Review Article entitled “The New Brutalism” (referring to the post-war British architects and artist collective known as ‘The Independent Group’). Jane & Louise Wilson collaborated with gymnasts at Heathrow Gymnasium, London, in order to create the photograph. Contemporary athletes are dressed to look as if from another period - awarding a mordant quality to the image; which however is contrasted by the playfulness of the exercises. The women seem to employ a kind of visual rhythm through their uniformed bodies and repetitious movements - all of which become reflected in the patterns of the gym equipment’s bars and cables. The effect is one of constant surveillance as subjects: the gymnasts become aware of being observed and employ their own kind of self-surveillance. They evoke a sense of still living memories; of progress that has came to an end.

The New Brutalists, has been shown along the five-screen video installation Erewhon, first exhibited at Lisson Gallery, London, in 2006, in an exhibition titled The New Brutalists. Jane & Louise Wilson: “If modernist programmes fast-forwarding us to the future are unrealised, then what remains of them in the present are like spectres.”


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