is a funny business. Often commissions are determined through open competitions,
judged by bureaucrats, politicians, and philistines. Nevertheless, the
architectural partnership of Matthias Sauerbruch and Louisa Hutton has had
remarkable success building high profile sustainable, post-postmodern structures.
For three months, the late Harun Farocki documented their work in Sauerbruch Hutton Architects (trailer here), which screens as
a Projections selection at the 52nd New York Film Festival.
had certain ground rules, such as no editing out of actual chronological
sequence and absolutely positively no talking head interviews. The office
simply goes about their business as usual. One thing that will immediately
strike viewers is the genuine collaborative nature of the work. Both
name-on-the-door architects are open to a lot of bouncing ideas around and
challenging viewpoints. A winning competition entry might not be the work of
Sauerbruch or Hutton alone, but the fruits of the entire office’s labor.
Promising associates even get their own assignments, like the designer dauntingly
tasked with reinventing the folding chair.
also shows us the audience the joys of up-managing clients, particularly local
governmental bodies. When a key decision-maker suddenly balks at the settled
color scheme for a new university building in Potsdam, Hutton looks ready to
strangle her on the spot, but she maintains her composure and negotiates a
fitting Farocki’s “Direct Cinema” rubric, SHA
is definitely fly-on-the-wall observational cinema. Given its aesthetic kinship
to Frederick Wiseman’s work, it seems rather arbitrary the Titicut Follies documentarian’s latest three hour study is included
in NYFF’s Documentary Spotlight, but Farocki’s manageable seventy-three minute SHA is relegated to the vaguely avant-garde
Projections section, but as a Marxist like Farocki must know, life is not fair.
For architectural nerds, the must see film of
the fest is Eugène Green’s La Sapienza.
While Green’s film is like a master class with reincarnated Baroque architect,
Farocki’s doc is more of an office internship largely centered around the copy
machine. Still, there are telling things to observe if one is receptive. Recommended
for ardent admirers of Sauerbruch Hutton and Farocki, Sauerbruch Hutton Architects screens this Saturday (10/4) at the
Beale, as part of this year’s NYFF.
Labels: Documentary, Harun Farocki, NYFF '14, Sauerbruch Hutton