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Perret in France and Algeria

Perret in France and Algeria

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Heinz Emigholz’s groundbreaking and spellbinding architectural films are cinematographic re-enactments of the immediate experience of spaces. With an often canted-angle camera, he dissects the interior and exterior of a building, allowing the viewer to experience being there, and, by studying a career of an architect, construct a biography solely based on the works, without any commentary.

The last film in Emigholz’s Architecture as Autobiography series and the second in his series the Decampment of Modernism is the first film ever made on French brothers Auguste and Gustave Perret, presenting 30 of their projects in chronological order.

And it may be perfect. Like Emigholz’s other subjects—Goff, Maillart, Loos, Kiesler, Schindler, Sullivan—Auguste Perret was an Architect’s Architect, whose sublime structures, ranging from stunning churches, private homes, and public commissions, achieved sensational results with an unusual connection of stylistic elements from Art Nouveau and neoclassicism with externalized construction frames and bold experiments with concrete—especially in stairwells. As in Emigholz’s Parabeton, which presented works from Italian Pier Luigi Nervi alongside Roman ruins, Perret presents a delicious juxtaposition—between projects in France (up to the post-war reconstruction of Le Havre) and public buildings built under colonialism in Algeria.

Emigholz places the buildings, from 1904-1954, in their contemporary social conditions; the result is a portrait of France and Algeria in the year 2011.

Mark Peranson
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