Moving Constructions: Films from the Architecture Archive of gta / ETH Zurich

Organizer: Centro Cultural de Belém
Date: Tuesday, 19 February 2019 to Sunday, 26 May 2019
Location: Garagem Sul at the Centro Cultural de Belém, Lisbon

The exhibition website of Garagem Sul

Films in architectural collections tend to present a kind of discrepancy in that they are listed in the archival records but remain mostly absent from the construction of new historical narratives. Moving Constructions presents a reversal of this relationship, exposing fifteen films to new critical reflection.

Architectural history is predominantly based on “still” objects: writings, sketches, photographs, plans and models. While films are also reservoirs of knowledge and recollection, they are fragile materials that require special care and investment for their preservation and manipulation. As a result, moving images are often overlooked in architectural discourse.

In response to this condition, a team of historians at the Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture (gta Institute) at ETH Zurich began a research project within the gta Archives on the occasion of institute's 50th anniversary. Fifteen films were presented in the exhibition gta Films as part of the jubilee celebrations. These films were installed in different spaces of the Department of Architecture at ETH Zurich, prompting the building’s daily users to reflect on how architects utilize film, and how historical narratives could be constructed anew starting from these materials.

Moving Constructions presents gta Films within a new context. The linear and non-hierarchical display at Garagem Sul is an invitation to discover these archival materials in a different set of meandering parcours or routes. Visitors encounter a wide range of twentieth-century materials: from the seminal Architects’ Congress by László Moholy Nagy, which recorded the fourth CIAM conference, to building projects like the Swiss National Exhibition of 1964 in Lausanne; from images for Variel, a Swiss firm that produced prefabrication systems sold around the world, to interviews with Swiss architects such as Rudolf Olgiati and Alfred Roth; from documentaries on the Bauhaus, to a visit to interwar Chicago accompanied by a postmodern revisitation seventy years later.

The exhibition explores these materials as historical, institutional, and filmic testimonies worthy of discovery, analysis, and preservation in their own right. They present a strong argument for the general relevance of film in architectural history and theory. Starting from a very specific set of records housed in the archives of an architecture school, Moving Constructions is an invitation to cross disciplinary boundaries and geographical borders, as well as an overture to raise new questions about the often-problematic status of film within architecture archives.

Organized by: Garagem Sul in the Centro Cultural de Belém, Lab2PT. Commissioner: André Tavares. Curators: Andreas Kalpakci, Jacqueline Maurer, Daniela Ortiz dos Santos. Collaboration: gta Institute at ETH Zurich. Support: Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia.