Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Fourth Wall

Where else can you see Wim Wenders, Rem Koolhaas, Archigram, Tati and Jem Cohen on the same screen in one season? Today kicks-off The Fourth Wall at the IFI, Ireland’s first-ever film and architecture season.

The Fourth Wall is the first installment of a series of curated events by the Irish Architecture Foundation, which celebrates the most expressive of unions – that of architecture and film.

19th century theatre radicalised viewer experience by dissolving the boundary between the stage and audience. Now, in the 20th and 21st centuries, cinema is wholly reimagining how we experience and understand architecture. Architecture – buildings, sites, cities and landscapes – is most commonly exhibited on the wall of a gallery or museum. In The Fourth Wall, the vertical gallery space transforms into the screen. What was finite now channels the infinite, narrative, and responsive. Released from the gallery wall, architecture transcends its role as a mute subject and becomes a protagonist, an active participant within the fabric of filmmaking.

Koolhaas Houselife

Many of The Fourth Wall screenings are exclusive to this season. Expect to see alternative readings of well-known buildings from surprising and unanticipated voices, such as Ursula Mayer’s portrait of architect Erno Goldfinger in Interiors and Denis Postle’s critique of the Pompidou Centre by Cedric Price and Archigram in Beaubourg. A special feature is Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoîne’s critically acclaimed Koolhaas Houselife. On Saturday, May 7th, the filmmakers will attend the screening in person and will take part in a Q&A. The screening will also be followed by a rarely seen 10-minute filmed interview with Rem Koolhaas.

Other selections challenge our preconceptions about the role that architecture and the built environment plays within economics and nationhood. Another rarely shown feature is Patrick Keiller’s elegant factual essay and social comment A Dilapidated Dwelling. This film is especially germane to the context of post-Celtic Tiger Ireland. Keiller’s talent lies in his sensitive yet provocative exploration of the conflict between new and old forms of architecture. This is also embraced – although from an all-together different perspective – by Jacques Tati in his fictional comedy Mon Oncle, which offers a pointed critique of post war modernism. Furthermore, Lisa Godson (GradCam/NCAD) and Sunniva O’Flynn (IFI) have curated Dublin: Sean agus Nua, from the IFI Irish Film Archive. Another feature that casts a city as the main actor is Los Angeles Plays Itself by Thom Andersen.

If Buildings Could Talk

The theme of public space continues in Chain by Jem Cohen, a director who has reached cult status through his deft photo-collages that combine fiction and documentary to chronicle the urban environment. Another Irish premiere is If Buildings Could Talk by one of the greatest living film-makers, Wim Wenders. This is where the 3D capability of film and the dimensionality of architecture align, giving you a ‘virtual-real’ experience of a building. The Fourth Wall has been given special permission to screen If Buildings Could Talk. This will be your only opportunity to see it in Ireland.

For further details and booking information, please visit the IFI website.
Nathalie Weadick
Director + Curator Irish Architecture Foundation

Samantha Martin-McAuliffe
UCD School of Architecture

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