Jason Oddy
Concrete Spring

Driven by a deep and abiding interest in how politics and power shape the built environment, Oddy's work is consequently sometimes also inspired by current events. In November 2010 he was invited to take part in an EU sponsored artist's residency in Algiers, an opportunity which led him to start investigating the largely forgotten Algerian legacy of legendary Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. The following month the Arab Spring ignited in neighbouring Tunisia prompting the artist to think about how Niemeyer's extensive post-independence Algerian projects might be relevant to the unfolding situation in North Africa four decades on.

For the next three years Oddy worked at planning and executing the series Concrete Spring, eventually returning to Algeria to spend a month photographically exploring the two university campuses and Olympic sports hall Niemeyer built there. With his 5x4 camera he produced a body of work that through exhibitions and publications brought new attention to these long overlooked modernist masterpieces. Critically the work also asked how the ideas embedded in these places once designed to forge and empower Algeria's postcolonial generation might be reinscribed into the political discourse of today.

Where Oddy's previous projects often focused on coercive institutions and sites of brute power, here he engaged with a very different type of architecture. One whose principal aim would seem to be to enfranchise rather than regulate its occupants. Accordingly in Concrete Spring he supplemented his earlier monolithic approach with new strategies such as multiplicity and reconfiguration. Aesthetic forms that not only aim to identify immanent relations of power but which also seek to point towards things that are desired or have been experienced.

With the help of a Graham Foundation grant Oddy is continuing to work on this project.