Cobblestone Lightboxes - Building Paper

Kirsty Lillico's Building Paper is on display in the Cobblestone Park Lightboxes. Cut from building paper, her sculptures represent architectural floorplans.

Building Paper by Kirsty Lillico

At its peak in the mid-twentieth century, modernist architecture was proposed as a utopian solution to public housing needs.

Cut from building paper, Kirsty Lillico’s sculptures represent architectural floorplans from a selection of modernist concrete apartment buildings: the Symonds Street Flats (Auckland), the Gordon Wilson Memorial Flats (Wellington), and the apartment of Dr Robert Laing, a character in J.G. Ballard’s 1975 novel ‘High Rise’.

Darkness dominates these lightboxes; the draped and incised building paper has a seductive petrochemical sheen. Made in collaboration with photographer Dionne Ward, tightly cropped images employ raking light to reveal details of the sculptures. This approach reflects Lillico’s interest in horror movies and follows one of the rules of film-making: to create suspense ­– don’t show the monster.

Modernist architecture has been employed as a dystopian backdrop in countless films; feeding the popular opinion that these buildings are cold, authoritarian and depressing. Monsters emerge from these backdrops; from our imagination and from fear of the unknown. This rhetoric of fear has been seized on by politicians, developers, and other forces keen to erase the traces of our recent past.

Like a necromancer, Lillico re-animates the remains of modernism, to draw out ideas of fairness, collectivism, and the livability of our cities.

View these works in the Cobblestone Park lightboxes on Vivian Street, Te Aro.