Akeem Smith and Tommy Malekoff connect film and architecture, time and space. American artists are creating an international furore with impressive, immersive installations. BUILT, on show at Brutus Rotterdam from 7 October to 20 November, marks the debut in the Netherlands for Smith and Malekoff. Brutus is collaborating with the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam for this exhibition.

Everything built will sooner or later collapse, crumble and cease to exist. The products of creation are, by definition, temporary. Yet they can create lasting changes in the natural environment, people’s lives and the way we design and redesign history. In BUILT, curated by Maxwell Wolf of the New York-based New Canons, Smith and Malekoff explore the impact of violence and impermanence on the body and the built environment. Their architectural video installations push the boundaries of video art and blur the distinction between artist, archivist and documentary filmmaker.

The works in BUILT were previously shown in acclaimed presentations curated by Maxwell Wolf. NO Gyal Can Test (New York 2020, Detroit 2021), which included the work Queens Street, is considered Smith’s breakthrough. It brought him high praise from press such as Artforum, Frieze, Garage, W, NYT Style and The New York Times. The exhibition also features Malekoff’s biggest project to date, Forever and Forever (New York 2022). This huge video installation was shown last year in an abandoned space deep inside Manhattan’s Rockefeller Center. New York Times characterised the artwork as “channel surfing the Apocalypse”.

“Whereas memory and material, like faith and infrastructure, are inherently subject to deterioration, Smith and Malekoff evoke new epochs, fuelling the potential of what can arise amidst all that remains in the void thereafter.” Curator, Maxwell Wolf

Video installations Queens Street & Forever and Forever at Brutus
For his presentation at Brutus, Smith uses cinematic archive material and remnants of buildings from his hometown Kingston in Jamaica. The video work Queens Street, 2020, combines memory and nostalgia with a lyrical tribute to the women who raised him. In Forever and Forever (2022), New York-based Malekoff maps the impact of human intervention in Florida’s Everglades nature reserve. He shows the moral side of ecological decay but also creates an alternative view, fluctuating between extreme beauty, spectacle and destruction. While memory and material are inherently subject to deterioration, Smith and Malekoff evoke new vistas, fuelling the potential of what can emerge amid the resulting emptiness.

BUILT: Akeem Smith and Tommy Malekoff
7 October to 20 November 2022 at Brutus
Keileweg 10, Rotterdam
Open: Thursday to Sunday, 12:00 to 18:00 and Friday 12:00 to 21:00
Tickets € 8 / Combiticket with IABR € 10 / CJP/Rotterdampas € 5 / Friday night € 5 / We are Public free