Radcliffe Public Art Competition


This art installation that uses the ordinary yet representative element at Harvard’s Campus: The traditional brick.
Undoubtedly, to think about Harvard is to think about bricks. Many times obfuscated by its own abundance, a breath of New England colonial nostalgia renders a homogenous visual made of brick buildings, homes, stores and pathways at Harvard and its surroundings.

Introduced in the 19th century and imitated later with the Harvard Brick patent (a technique for building brick facades in imitation of much older ones), brick buildings constitute the identity and social imaginary of Harvard University.

However, behind their timeless appearance also lies a history of convict labor, stablishment of institutions and exploitation. Borrowing from Darian Carr and Avi Robinson’s investigation for the Legacy of Slavery Program, this proposal reflects on the stories of prisoners leased to work in Georgia’s brickyards which constantly supplied bricks to Harvard University.

Over 30 million bricks produced by prisoners at the Chattahoochee Brick Company more than 100 years ago (still in use) helped construct the image of this Institution as we know it today. Reacting to this, Brick-ism deconstructs the notion of brickwork by creating a landscape of brick and rubble that intends to render visible the omnipresent ‘brickism’ at Harvard, that often escapes our attention and we rarely focus our consideration to.

A formless pool of brick rubble contains a series of primitive elements made of Harvard red bricks. The pile of rubble may imply a history of previous decay but also a state of reformation, reconstitution. By creating an inarticulate landscape of bare materials, the brick returns to its natural condition, the ground, posing questions to our physical reality regarding the unnoticed stories of the Institution, but also in a broader sense, the ever-changing global landscape.

The elements (A small stair, a long bar and and a platform) emerge within the rubble to provide spaces for interaction and contemplation. Using a stack bond of bricks (in similar appeareance to the ones used in the Radcliffe Buildings), the elements challenge the traditional flemish bond used in all Harvard buildings by stripping it down to a more essential assembly.

in collaboration w/ Oscar Zamora