Screening & artist talk Architecture & the Cuban Revolution

Microbrigades, 2013 © Florian Zeyfang, Lisa Schmidt-Colinet, and Alexander Schmoeger © Florian Zeyfang, Lisa Schmidt-Colinet, and Alexander Schmoeger


Goethe-Institut New York

Microbrigades, 2013 © Florian Zeyfang, Lisa Schmidt-Colinet, and Alexander Schmoeger

As part of Archtober, New York City’s Architecture and Design Month, the Goethe-Institut, in collaboration with the Austrian Cultural Forum, presents Microbrigades - Variations of a Story (2013, 30min) and Institute Above-Ground (2015, 22min), two films by Florian Zeyfang, Lisa Schmidt-Colinet, and Alexander Schmoeger that premiered at the Berlinale. The films combine architectural images, archival material, and interviews to revisit modernist building experiments in post-revolution Cuba.
Together with health care and education, housing was one of the main pillars of the Cuban Revolution. Due to the perpetual lack of living quarters, the “Microbrigadas” were set up in 1971. Until today these construction units–groups of factory or office workers that are set free from their duties–continue to build their own multi-story apartment blocks as well as community buildings all over Cuba. The film Microbrigades tells the history of this collective self-help initiative.
Institute Above-Ground is a documentary about one of the early, visionary architectural experiments built right after the Cuban Revolution, in 1965. The architecture of Vittorio Garatti’s Instituto Tecnológico de Suelos y Fertilizantes "André Voisin" felt futuristic. Built to house 2000 students who worked, ate, and slept there, it was part of the “rural schools” initiative, through which the Cuban government sought to decentralize education. Later the complex was transformed into an army prison. Today the ruin lies like a stranded spaceship in the flatlands near Güines, an ark for ideas yet to be realized.
After the screening, Zeyfang and Schmoeger will be in conversation with architecture critic and curator Jacob Moore about their filmic and other research of Cuba's architectural history.

Lisa Schmidt-Colinet and Alexander Schmoeger practice as architects in Vienna. Florian Zeyfang is an artist and filmmaker based in Berlin. They have collaborated on projects and curated exhibitions that examine architecture and film in Cuba since 2003. Among other places, they have exhibited spatial installations–incorporating slide and video projections–in Rio de Janeiro, Los Angeles, Havana, Gdansk, and Berlin. Based on an exhibition they curated for the 8th Havana Biennial (in collaboration with Siggi Hofer, Susi Jirkuff, and Eugenio Valdés Figueroa, RAIN), they published Pabellón Cuba, 4D – 4 Dimensions, 4 Decades (b_books: Berlin, 2008) with Eugenio Valdés Figueroa, a reader on art, architecture, and film in Cuba.

Jacob Moore is an architecture critic and Program Coordinator at Columbia University's Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture. He co-curated the Buell Center exhibition series House Housing, the latest edition of which is shown as part of Berlin's Haus der Kulturen der Welt Wohnungsfrage project. Prior to joining the Buell Center, Moore worked as an editor at Princeton Architectural Press. His work has been exhibited internationally and published in various magazines and journals, including Artforum, Future Anterior, and the Avery Review, where he is also a contributing editor.