Architecture and Society


Lotte Schreiber, curator

“[…] you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody,” writes Jean-Jacques Rousseau in 1755 in the introduction to his Discourse on Inequality, in which he indicates a cultural breach that had already manifested with the development of the first civilizations: Land in prehistoric societies had been used collectively, whereas the Age of Antiquity already knew private land ownership. A careless, solely capital-driven land consumption has since transformed the surface of our planet to an alarming degree. Profit-oriented agricultural use adversely affects soil fertility, ongoing soil sealing contributes to global warming and changes the natural water balance. It is in cities in particular that land–a scarce commodity–is more and more aggressively threatened by the neoliberal forays of profit-oriented real estate speculators, with the resulting housing crisis becoming an existential crisis for an increasing number of people. Against this backdrop and inspired by the exhibition Boden für alle at afo architekturforum oberösterreich, this year’s program section ARCHITECTURE AND SOCIETY is dedicated to the “land issue”, presenting four films that take a multifaceted look at the economic, ecological, and social importance of land, our basis of life. In the French long-term documentary The Spark by Valeria Mazzucchi and Antoine Harari, for instance, we follow environmentalists occupying a stretch of land near Nantes for many years in order to prevent the construction of an airport. In southern Italy, a group of people in their mid-thirties starts to cultivate the fallow lands in their village of origin as a service to the community. La Restanza by Italian director Alessandra Coppola tells of young people who decide not to turn their backs on the problems of this area ravaged by outmigration, but to reanimate it together. With A Pile of Ghosts, Singapore-based Austrian filmmaker Ella Raidel takes us into the bewildering world of Chinese ghost towns–the bizarre manifestations of a turbo-capitalist urbanization process–creating a form of cinematic narrative for this purpose in which she masterfully weaves together elements of documentary and fiction, acting and archive, research and interpretation. A hybrid cinematic form also characterizes the work The Art of Inconsequentiality that constitutes a kind of meta film for this program. An elaborately interlaced scenario between documentary and fiction, the German-Austrian film production by architect and design theorist Friedrich von Borries and director Jakob Brossmann reflects on the sustainability of artistic creativity in itself, asking the question what it could actually mean to live a life that has no negative consequences. A film that extends an invite to engage in discussion!

Films from this section: