A reflection on the relationship between architecture and its social context is at the heart of Ishmael Randall Weeks’s work. Enlisting architecture as a metaphorical structure, his work addresses the impact of man on the landscape and his interface with it, combining this with an investigation of urbanization and references from the history of architecture. Using both the language of sculpture and a variety of graphic means, Randall Weeks examines the crises and legacies of modernism, juxtaposing modernist architectural icons (such as Le Corbusier, Buckminster Fuller and Carlos Raul Villanueva) with the informal of indigenous architectures of Latin America (including favelas, adobe structures, vernacular architecture and the often reused stone masonry of Inca structures). A closely allied theme is the economy of scarcity improvisation and, as a corollary to this, a concern with ways of living within the landscape that preserve its environmental integrity; thus recycling features as the methodology behind much of his work. His work thus forms a critique of the abuses of power and self-interest of the political establishment, and highlights the alternative forms of community living, education and knowledge that exists in parallel.
By creating works that take the visual form of functional objects while stripping them of their productivity, the artist addresses notions of labor and utility, forcing an examination of our understanding of culturally specific forms. Further, his use of abandoned objects and detritus as sculptural material forces an acknowledgement of the constituent elements, simultaneously exploiting and adapting their particular codes and associations.
"My work encompasses site-specific installations, sculpture and video to works on paper. In these works, issues of urbanization, transformation, regeneration, escape, collapse and nomadic existence have been predominant. While the work in the drawing studio serves as a means for a more intimate exploration of these issues, the foundation of my larger scale work lies in the alteration of found and recycled materials and environmental debris, often on site (including such source materials as books and printed matter, empty tins, old tires, bicycles, boat parts and building construction fragments) that are often altered to create sculptural objects and architectural spaces. These works take the visual form of functional objects while stripping them of their productivity to address notions of labor and utility, forcing an examination of our understanding of culturally specific forms while simultaneously exploiting and adapting their particular codes and associations."
Ishmael Randall Weeks