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The burglarization of architecture for art’s sake

As a portmanteau of "burglary" and "architecture", the counterfeit term burglitecture might recall anti-burglary design that prioritizes security over aesthetic appeal–with bars on windows, high fences, and fortified doors–or even an image of architects who appropriate or steal architectural styles or ideas.

Our current zeitgeist of fortress-like McMansions, surveillance capitalism, state-endorsed crime prevention through design, and the public health crisis of mass shootings is mostly ignored by the nation’s architects. Reep cannot look away, as this runs contrary to values established early in his career designing public spaces and restoring houses in Tampa for marginalized communities. Architecture, he reasons, like food, is for everyone.

With this show, Reep asks us to imagine the burglarization of architecture for art’s sake. Wherein the term construction suggests the scaling up of architectural renderings, therefore translating them into buildings, Richard Reep’s subversive work in “Burglitecture'' is a deconstruction of architecture into art.

Architecture is an essential component of human civilization, providing shelter and serving as a physical representation of cultural values and ideals. However, capitalist culture places a premium on architecture as a symbol of wealth and status, leading to the construction of lavish, wasteful, and–often–ugly buildings. In this context, architecture becomes a tool of the ruling class to exert power and dominance, even aesthetic oppression, over others. If we imagine architecture stripped of the dignity attributed to it by capitalist cultures, we might critique the role of architecture in perpetuating inequality and social stratification.

Reep’s suite of assemblage sculptures–these weighty collage works of reclaimed architectural material, recycled paint, work pants, and cast concrete–can be seen as social commentary, even activism. His constructions, which scale down architectural features without miniaturizing, place the fragments of urban landscape, facades, and interiors into a subscale of the human scale, disrupting traditional relationships between architectural elements and luring us in through a sense of intimacy and closeness. Once there, occupants of these fractured spaces might discover and explore their personal connections with the built environment.

It is important to recognize that architecture can also be a force for positive change and social transformation. Architecture should create affordable and sustainable housing that is beautiful, promote community engagement, and facilitate cultural exchange. Reep looks around and concludes that, mostly, it fails at this aim.

Through deliberate misuse of the urban environment, Reep happens into creative solutions for its improvement, as the flâneurs and passantes strolled into generative psychological experiences of cities, or like the Situationists discovered via dérive, or, drift. These dislocations are absolutely necessary under the increasingly predictable and monotonous experience of everyday life in late stage capitalism. Reep’s architectural deconstructions allow us to challenge the traditional assumptions and conventions of architectural design and imagine more fruitful futures.

Keeping with the spirit of the show and his professional practice ethic of material reuse, Reep partners with Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida as the recipient of the gallery’s charitable commission. Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida is a private, nonprofit organization that collects, stores and distributes donated food to partners in seven Central Florida counties.


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