A reply to A SMOOTHLY ORGANISED DISAPPOINTMENT – “RECYCLING SOCIALISM” IN TALLINN

Article in Uncube Magazin

Having visited the Tallinn Architecture Biennale as well, I confess
I’m astonished by the article of Tarja Nurmi and her smashing judgment.

Calling the six lectures “theoretical or shallow” in the same sentence
is absurd. Mrs. Nurmi apparently did not understand the obvious effort
of the curator team, to not principally copy and paste the numbers
game of so-called “excellent built examples”, but to give a chance to
fundamentally rethink our approach to ideologically biased space
production. Furthermore, I have rarely been at a symposium where
invariably every speaker was thoroughly prepared, interacted with the
other presenters so constructively, and had a more passionated and
profound opinion on the event’s topic. To call this Stringent
Intensiveness shallow is beyond believe.

Considering your cry for “real specialist”, I’d love to hear more
about who that would be. Is it the city architect of a post-socialist
metropole? The engineer that calculates a glass and steel facade for a
concrete slab public building? The investor that finally brings the
millions to commoditize the fouling heritage?

I’m not sure how Mrs. Nurmi could have missed the implications all of
the presentations had in their pursue of social and cultural effects
and implications of architecture and their interpretations:
Huber’s multimedia hybrid and “passive house” museum/public space,
Aureli’s consequences of modern space for the precarious creative
workers, Hungar’s spatial interpretations of social relationships,
Wojciechowski’s resistance to pure market logic and patronizing rule
sets of competitions and Čeferin’s jolting plea for a critical
architecture revised. For me as an urbanist it is beautiful to see how
diverse architects can look at space.
Mrs. Nurmi, not reflecting in your blog entry upon the implications of
those lines of thought on those grounds, in particular here in the
Baltics and in Tallinn – this is the actual shallowness towards your
interested readers.

There is a lot to learn about how to functionally reuse socialist
architecture, but for this I can as well review the efforts made by
various projects installed through the last two decades throughout
Europe. Speaking of which, the renovation and reuse of the TV tower in
Berlin, and correspondingly in Tallinn. Really? Those projects are
done and over with, there’s nothing groundbreaking to see here. I
strongly believe that we don’t have trouble finding creative
architectural methods and ways of reusing and remaking objects
produced in the last 70 years. We need to layout the groundwork to
discuss how we approach them ideologically. And for this process the
symposium provided enough food for thought to leave to the audience.

As of the rest of your review, your reflection on the curator’s
exhibition, and the exhibition space in Linnahall, and the temporary
club/café/bookshop leaves me thoroughly unsatisfied.
In the only critique towards the curator’s exhibition models you
missed the blatantly obvious recursive thought of the Swiss team about
ideology, time and object: the most famous conclusion of modernism,
modified – “All that is solid melts into air” – and so does the
architecture. How can you not see the inversion of all that has been
taking for granted, manifested in Frolov’s/Levtchuk’s hovering
monolith – the reversed ground.
No word of the presentations and dialogues fueled by architects from
all over Europe – the vast network which the “young curators” as you
call them have been able to weave in years of effort; no word about
the contributions of the school’s exhibition in Linnahall – didn’t you
long for practical examples?

All in all, a disappointing review, obviously biased with name
dropping by the author. I for my part can only hope that the next
Tallinn Architecture Biennale will pick up on where the b210 team have
left us here in Tallinn, showing how it certainly is possible to put
Tallinn on the map outside of the rails of the boring IT hype.

Andreas Wagner

#tab, #tallinn