Drawings on paper and vellum, inflatables, motors, wooden platform, mixed media
Lombard-Freid Projects, NY
Castello di Rivoli, Italy as part of T1: Triennale Torino
Dull Roar invites viewers entering the gallery to walk on an elevated wooden platform up to an observation deck from which they can watch the repetitive motion of an inflatable building rising and collapsing, a model of Pruitt-Igoe, the infamous 1950s housing project in St. Louis. Designed by Minoru Yamasaki on the modernist premises of Le Corbusier’s ideal residential habitat, the initial plan sought to incorporate “three essential joys of urbanism: sun, space and greenery.” Safe democratic space would encourage safe democratic living.
Sixteen years later on April 21, 1972 the public demolition of Pruitt-Igoe began amid a sea of spectators. Charles Jenks would later remark, “Modern architecture died in St. Louis, Missouri on July 15, 1972 at 3:32 pm when the infamous Pruitt-Igoe scheme, or rather several of its slab blocks, were given the final coup de grace by dynamite.”
The rubble of Pruitt-Igoe was carted off to serve as landfill for luxury homes being built in the suburb of Ladue, Missouri—the most expensive neighborhood in North America in 1972.
The hush, like that of a football crowd awaiting the outcome of a crucial place kick in the last seconds of a bowl game, was ended by sharp explosions. As the reinforced steel and concrete building crumbled into rubble a spontaneous shout arose from the spectators.
-St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 22, 1972, the day after the second Pruitt-Igoe building was imploded
Dull Roar marks the threshold moment of Pruitt-Igoe’s destruction and links it to several other deaths of Modernism in the form of discrete sculptural objects and drawings. The October 1972 carbon monoxide suicide of industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss is marked by Positive Agitation, a Dreyfuss Hoover 150 vacuum circa 1936, which breathes in and out through a car tailpipe. Last Gasp, an inflatable structure attached to a hand dryer, connects the death of modernist architect Louis Kahn in a Penn Station restroom to Yamasaki’s recently demolished Pruitt-Igoe and his newly opened World Trade Center.