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Architecture and the Unspeakable
Film directed by John Szot
johnszot.com (14 minutes)

“This is the story of three buildings,” begins this animated short’s title card, “each
with a pathological problem that contains the promise of a new cultural dialogue in architecture.” In the three dreamily atmospheric chapters that follow, the imagined built environments are presented without further context, letting the visuals do the talking: an unfinished building in SoHo, New York, already vandalized and plastered with graffiti; a Tokyo residential tower, constructed with the type of experimental, idiosyncratic concepts that could only be found in Japan (all pitched in sales presentation style by a bubbly young voice); and a crumbling Motor City warehouse that morphs, Fantasia-like, into a specimen of renewal. While the interpretation of these buildings, and the responses they provoke, depends to some extent on the viewer, enough gorgeous visuals are packed in to the film’s 14-minute run time to give all audiences much to think about. By Erin Donnelly


Book by David Balzer
Coach House Books (softcover, 144 pages)

What does curation mean in an era when anything filtered by our personal sensibilities – fashion, music, even cheese – is considered curated? What does it mean when Facebook allows us to brand our very identities by articulating our preferences, while so-called “meta-curators” curate the curators behind biennials and shows that power entire industries? This treatise from Toronto art critic David Balzer assumes that readers will possess more than a little knowledge of the art world, but it never gets bogged down in minutiae. After an introductory profile of Hans Ulrich Obrist, perhaps the world’s only celebrity art curator, Balzer weighs the value of the job, tracing the evolution from its medieval origins to the 1980s (when “curate” achieved verb status) and ’90s (when curators flourished as advocates of challenging art). He also digs in to the changing nature of the work itself, from glamorous openings to administrative drudgery. Though geared for the art world, Curationism sheds light on any field where value is created by select arbiters of taste. By David Dick‑Agnew


Rebel Architecture
Documentary series by Daniel Davies
Al Jazeera (6 x 25 minutes)

Six filmmakers explore some of the most marginalized places on earth, from the favelas of Rio to the floating ghettos of West Africa, in this online series produced by Al Jazeera. Each 25-minute entry depicts a revolutionary breed of architecture practised by firms that have ample experience with high-budget projects, but are refocusing their efforts to influence change – even if it means working outside the law. Nigeria’s Kunlé Adeyemi erected a school for a floating settlement on the shores of Lagos, where nearly 100,000 residents travel around by boat. His next project is a media centre for a community that faces demolition by the government. Meanwhile, self-taught architect Ricardo de Oliveira has built more than 100 houses outside Rio de Janeiro in Rocinha, the densest favela in Latin America, where 200,000 people occupy less than one square kilometre. These and other projects in Vietnam, Pakistan, Spain and Palestine foster an inspiring vision of activism, assuring us of architecture’s transformative ability. By Popi Bowman

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