Olaf Metzel – Plattenbau
Olaf Metzel’s second solo exhibition in the Wentrup gallery presents new works under the title Plattenbau [prefabricated apartment building usually made of concrete slabs]. For Metzel, the “Platte” (‘pre-fab’: literally: slab) is not only an architectural construction practice and material culture of the former East Bloc, but also a promise of Western postwar Modernist architecture, and similarly it highlights the discrepancy between ideal and reality. If we think of the Grands ensembles in the French banlieues, the Vele di Scampia in Naples or the Gropiusstadt in Berlin, these monuments of utopian Modernism generally stand nowadays as social and architectural historical symbols of urban decay and sociopolitical breakdown. Dilapidation, shattered prospects, cultural decline, criminal networks and social inequalities frequently characterize daily life in these “machines for living”, in which urban life was supposed to manifest itself through density.