New Exhibition – Lived Brutalism: Portraits at Robin Hood Gardens by Kois Miah
Four Corners Gallery, 121 Roman Road, Bethnal Green, London
22 May – 8 June, Tuesday – Saturday 11am – 6pm.
This is the second photography exhibition from the project, recording the lives of residents at Robin Hood Gardens in the estate’s last years before demolition. This ‘streets in the sky’ housing scheme has been celebrated as a masterpiece of concrete modernism and reviled as a ‘concrete monstrosity’, but in neither account do residents feature as more than bit players to someone else’s story.
Against these representations, and the social-cleansing agenda that they serve, Kois Miah’s images chronicle the lives, emotions, and routines that animate this extraordinary council estate by ‘New Brutalist’ architects Alison and Peter Smithson.
In these photographs, people and place, architecture and home are interlaced, as the concrete forms and charged voids of Robin Hood Gardens project a vitality at the edge of demolition. The portraits bear not melancholia for an outmoded social experiment, as council estates are too often portrayed today, but a vibrant community and architecture cut short by the destruction of regeneration.
The exhibition is part of a research collaboration with Nick Thoburn, sociologist at the University of Manchester, whose interviews with residents and writing about the estate accompany the portraits.