TSA Spring 2006 Film and Video Series

As part of the Festival of Architecture and Design {fAd}, the Toronto Society of Architects (TSA) will host the TSA Spring 2006 Film and Video Series. The screenings for all four Friday evenings will be held at 7:30pm in the Glass Room at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.

Into Africa is the theme on May 5, with the 1975 Nigerian film Quest For Better Living followed by the 2003 film Lagos/Koolhaas directed by Bregtje van der Haak. For the past four years, Rem Koolhaas and students from The Harvard Project on the City have come to Lagos regularly to research the type of urban environment that is produced by explosive population growth. The Project on the City is framed by two concepts: academia’s bewilderment with new forms of accelerated urbanization in developing regions and the maelstrom of redevelopment in existing urban areas; and, second, the failure of the design professions to adequately cope with these changes.

On May 12, Robert Lee’s Minima Moralia concerns a man that married a two-headed lady from the circus and who went home to tell his family. His mother asked, “Is she pretty?” The man answered, “Yes and no.” Revealed in six videos spanning 15 years, Lee’s eloquent and enigmatic monologues connect with all connoisseurs of life’s casually encountered profundities: the weird precision of corny jokes, the interrupted daydream of a subway ride, the sour nights when “every song on the radio was the worst way I could think of to ask for what I did not yet know how not to want.”

The title of the program on May 19 is In the Public Realm, and three films will be screened. The City of 1939 is directed by Ralph Steiner and Willard Van Dyke and narrated by Lewis Mumford. Next is The Dynamic American City, directed by Frederick Baskaw followed by American Look of 1958. These three educational/propaganda films that straddle the second world war begin by describing the state of chaotic cities and urban sprawl with a critical eye to progress. Early planning strategies such as the destruction of “blighted” neighbourhoods, autocentric planning, and suburban sprawl are proposed. The trilogy ends with the optimistic Populuxe film on the 1950s automotive, industrial, interior, and architectural design. These films are all in the public realm, and were downloaded off the Internet.

Mies’ Pieces concludes the program on May 26, with the 2004 film Regular or Super: Views on Mies van der Rohe directed by Joseph Hillel & Patrick Demers followed by Lost Buildings, also of 2004, directed by Ira Glass and Chris Ware. In 1967, at the end of a career spanning more than six decades, which included the design of the Seagram Building in New York, the Lake Shore Drive Apartment Buildings in Chicago, and the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, architect Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) designed a simple gas station near Montreal. The story of that gas station serves as the point of departure for this film, which examines Mies’ entire body of work (more than 70 buildings) and a sparse style that reflects the attribution that “less is more.”