June 14 - July 26, 2024

Clean Lines by Chloe Munkenbeck

Chloe Munkenbeck

Part of Artist-in-Residence

Clean Lines by Chloe Munkenbeck
Clean Lines by Chloe Munkenbeck
Clean Lines by Chloe Munkenbeck
Clean Lines by Chloe Munkenbeck

A daily commute in New York City, like many major cities, involves a stroll past immense modernist skyscrapers: three-story tall lobbies, polished marble floors and black leather furniture with chrome detail. The iconic architectural spaces house the city’s largest corporations and each night, these brightly lit, cavernous displays of global private wealth become the backdrop for their own upkeep. Soap-covered windows, the familiar whirr of a floor buffer and the rhythmic motion of a vacuum going back and forth - The repetitive acts in service of repelling the surrounding detritus tarnishing this pristine architectural image.

In Clean Lines, this detritus is collected and embedded into the icon of the modernist skyscraper: the shiny glass facades are infiltrated with weeds, pen caps, and pigeon feathers; the Lever House floor plans are printed in dust; the lobby corners are damp and the air ducts produce an inexplicable yet mesmerizing secretion.

The Lever House is a skyscraper located in Midtown Manhattan; it was designed by SOM for Unilever. The design brief was for the structure to be a living advertisement for the soap conglomerate. In response, SOM made “cleaning” a part of the building structure by embedding tracks for a permanent window washing gondola located on the roof. The pristine facade became synonymous with being maintained: physical maintenance as well as status maintenance. Clean Lines presents a modernist architecture that is unmaintainable, a metaphor of public defiance towards these inaccessible spaces of corporate wealth.

Special thanks to Kyle Bellucci Johanson for his unwavering support.

About the Artist

Chloe Munkenbeck

Chloe Munkenbeck (b. London, UK) is an artist and designer whose work uses architectural forms as both metaphor and medium to unpack the power structures supported by the built environment. She holds an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MA of Architecture from The... go to artist page

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