Meeting Architecture III - FRAGMENTS
MEETING ARCHITECTURE III : FRAGMENTS (2015-17)
The events of human life, whether public or private, are so intimately linked to architecture that most observers can reconstruct nations or individuals in all the truth of their habits from the remains of their monuments or from their domestic relics. Honoré de Balzac
Read more about the programme in this interview with BSR Architecture Curator Marina Engel by Domus magazine.
Meeting Architecture III: FRAGMENTS considers how ideologies are shaped, memories evoked and emotions stirred by buildings, their contents and their ruins. To this end the programme focuses on the concept of the fragment, defined as an urban ruin, which may be a house and its remaining contents or which may be personal relics, images, photographs, and other documents. When the meanings and memories we attach to our experiences are so closely tied to the material, how are individuals, ethnic groups, nations able to rebuild their identities and histories in the face of destruction? In an age of increasing displacement, architects and visual artists are invited, along with historians and archaeologists to examine and to reassemble such fragments to offer a contribution to the reconstruction of personal or collective identities in zones of present or of past conflict. The programme will also discuss the destruction of monuments and heritage sites brought about by war and in particular the attempt to erase or fragment the memories of differing cultural identities and ideologies.
Meeting Architecture III will continue to explore the relationship between architecture and other creative processes and consider how architecture works together with the other visual arts as well as with history, modern studies and archaeology, some of the principal research disciplines at the BSR.
The programme will include two exhibitions and five lectures each year. Most events will be introduced by an Italian architecture or art critic .
Lecture: Culture, Identity and Genocide: Robert Bevan (Britain) Architectural Critic for the Evening Standard and writer who also works on heritage and regeneration.
The targeted destruction of material culture has continued for centuries but despite the connection between such attacks and human rights first being made before the adoption of the Genocide Convention, this vital point is still barely recognised today. What should we be doing to address this?
Bevan is best known for The Destruction of Memory: Architecture at War (Reaktion Books, 2006) in which he argues that the destruction of the built artefacts of a people or nation is a means of cultural cleansing or division in order to annihilate the identity of a people. A special preview of extracts of the documentary film based on the book will be shown at the BSR on the same day as the lecture.
Lecture and exhibition: The Archaeology of Rumour: Akram Zaatari (Lebanon) Visual artist.
Zaatari often refers to the way his architectural training influences how he looks at the world, and the attention he gives to objects and documents in writing his histories. Archaeology is frequently used as a metaphor for connecting to the past and to the collection of fragments: stories, personal recollections, images and testimonies from areas of conflict, in particular the Lebanon. The lecture and exhibition The Archaeology of Rumour focuses on the theme of the letter which Zaatari uses both as the subject ( the document) and as the form of his works. The BSR show will present two videos: In this House (2005) which is about the excavation of a letter and Letter to a Refusing Pilot (2013) which is addressed to an Israeli pilot. Both works look at war through the eyes of the people who lived through it and who narrate personal fragments of history.
Lecture: The Past as Hostage. Heritage, Conflicts and International Organizations : Francesco Bandarin (Italy) Architect and Assistant-Director General of UNESCO for Culture and Former Secretary of the World Heritage Convention.
Throughout the last decades, the world has witnessed several situations in which the built or the intangible heritage has been at the core of political, ethnic and religious conflicts. From the deliberate destruction of the Mostar bridge in Bosnia in 1993 and of the Bamyan Buddhas in Afghanistan in 2001, to the recent offenses to the heritage of Mali, Iraq and Syria, historic heritage is increasingly targeted in situations of conflict.
Bandarin will examine recent cases and discuss the actions taken by the international community to address these issues as well as ways to improve and extend the protection of cultural heritage.
Lecture and exhibition: 40 Days: Dor Guez (Israel) Visual Artist and head of the Photography Department at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem.
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the souls of the deceased are believed to wander the Earth for forty days after death until the soul ascends. Special prayers at the gravesite and in the church are then held in memory of the departed. 40 Days combines intimate video works about Guez’s family with photographs of destroyed gravesites in the Christian-Palestinian cemetery in Lod, a town between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The images relate to Guez’s ongoing work the Christian-Palestinian Archive devoted to this dispersed minority in the Middle East.
Guez’s installations combine diverse modes of video and photographic practices and raise questions about the role of contemporary art in narrating unwritten histories, both personal and collective, referring to his own cultural heritage, Christian Palestinian and Jewish Tunisian.
Lecture: Only the Criminal Can Solve the Crime: Eyal Weizman (Israel) Architect and Professor of Spatial and Visual Culture, Director of the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London and Global Professor at Princeton University.
An authority on the architecture of Israel’s occupation, Weizman has written on and practiced in relation to the architecture of Israel’s occupation, suggesting ways to decolonise architecture in the occupied territories. Weizman recently established Forensic Architecture, a research project based at Goldsmith University. Its aim is to analyse the physical ruins and debris left behind by drone strikes and other forms of mass-attack by working with archaeological scans, mobile phone footage and interviews with witnesses in order to create detailed, architectural reconstructions of such events. Forensic Architecture’s investigations provide evidence for international prosecution teams, political organisations NGOs and the United Nations.
Lecture/conversation and exhibition: Miroslaw Balka (Poland) Artist
The fragment is used to question both personal and collective memories; Balka’s Catholic upbringing and his family and the collective experience of Poland’s turbulent history, focusing particularly on the Nazi occupation of Poland. His work often concentrates on the preservation of traces, on what is absent, memory and loss.
Conversation with Joseph Rykwert (Britain) Architectural Historian and Paul Philippe Cret Emeritus Professor of Architecture, University of Pennsylvania
One of Rykwert’s best-known books The Idea of a Town (first published in 1963) is concerned with home and place — and place, according to Rykwert, ‘is always constituted of disparate fragments: not only seen and touched, but smelt and tasted — or even just recalled. The amalgam of fragments is the condition of settlement’. Rykwert will look at Warsaw, his birthplace, and discuss its reconstruction after the war.
Lecture: Grzegorz Piatek (Poland) Architectural historian and founder of Centrum Architektury.
The main focus of Piatek’s work is twentieth century architecture and planning in Poland and he will lecture on the reconstruction of Warsaw, post-war and post-communism. Piatek was awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Architecture Biennale for curating the Polish pavilion in 2008 and is currently curating an international exhibition on the Eastern Bloc capital cities, due to open in Warsaw in 2017.
Lecture: Helen Walasek (Britain) Former Associate of the Bosnian Institute and former Deputy Director of Bosnia-Herzegovina Heritage Rescue.
Walasek is the author of Bosnia and the Destruction of Cultural Heritage (Ashgate 2015). She visited Bosnia-Herzegovina frequently during and after the 1992–1995 war and has been a consultant expert to the Council of Europe. In 2000 and 2001, with the archaeologist Richard Carlton, she carried out the first assessments and documentation of destroyed historic monuments in ethnically-cleansed areas across Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Lecture and Exhibition Dragana Zarevac (Serbia) Visual Artist
Zarevac, a performer and video artist, has been active since the nineteen seventies and has often focused on war and post-war reconstruction in the Balkans. One of her most famous works, Most, discussed the destruction of the sixteenth-century Ottoman Mostar bridge, one of the most symbolic battlegrounds of the Yugoslav civil war 1991–5.
We would very much like to thank our sponsors who have made this programme possible: Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, the Bryan Guinness Charitable Trust, the Cochemé Charitable Trust, the John S Cohen Foundation, Wilkinson Eyre and Bennetts Associates.
Curator Architecture Programme
The British School at Rome
In collaboration with : Accademia di Francia a Roma – Villa Medici, MAXXI – Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo, Royal Academy of Arts
With the support of : Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, Bennetts Associates, Bryan Guinness Charitable Trust, Cochemé Charitable Trust, John S. Cohen Foundation, Wilkinson Eyre
For further information and comments, please contact the architecture programme curator, Marina Engel.