Driss Ouadahi, Densité
Fifteen large oil paintings of Driss Ouadahi are on exhibit at Hosfelt Gallery in New York. The press release states:
Ouadahi's exploration begins with images of the enormous public housing developments in Algiers that had been modeled on France's habitation à loyer modéré (housing at moderated rents). In North Africa, these monoliths accommodate displaced rural populations; in Europe, they house immigrants from former colonies.
Ouadahi studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf under Gerhard Richter, Joseph Beuys, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Sigmar Polke, Andreas Gursky and Katharina Fritsch. Well, the press release says they were at the Kunstakademie when Quadahi was there, then it veers off into unforgivable editorialising:
Ouadahi's oil paintings of the ubiquitous high-rise, the legacy of Modern Architecture's failed promise to improve the human condition, are renderings of impenetrable boundaries of steel, glass and concrete. They are symbols of the politics of class, religion and ethnicity. Reminders of "otherness."
Maybe. Poor old modern architecture, what a scapegoat. This is Corbusier's Unité d'Habitation in Marseilles that is being talked about here. Granted not all habitations were as well considered, but did they ever intend to be symbols of class, religion and ethnicity? No, quite the opposite and perhaps in their very even-handedness there was nothing definitive or positivist enough to withstand the blaming of modern architecture for social ills.
Every European city has dreadful zones of low-income, immigrant housing towers. The banlieus of Paris are the sites of much North African immigrant unrest, although those on the streets are French-born, and seemingly without prospects in contemporary French society. Modernism's great delusion was that it could solve social problems. It can't. It can only house social problems that must be solved elsewhere.