Deidi von Schaewen, Learning from vernacular
This exhibition proposes a world tour of traditional architectures, known as ‘vernacular’, presented in models, films and photographs. It results from an encounter between two extraordinary entities who, it transpires, are perfectly complementary, to the point of becoming accomplices.
On the one hand, there is an architecture collection, the property of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, arising from thirty years of learning undertaken by generations of architecture students, which Pierre Frey has taken on the responsibility of developing; on the other, the photographer Deidi von Schaewen, whose lens has focused on these spontaneous architectures.
From this encounter, made possible by Alexander von Vegesack and the Vitra Design Museum, arose a book, published by Actes Sud, and an exhibition, presented in the Swiss Pre-Alps in 2010, which will be reprised this summer in Actes Sud’s rooms. Photography opens the way to architecture and to the debates that traverse it. Behind this approach lies the clear awareness of the fact that, beyond the author’s commitment, the photographer discovers and makes visible areas that then develop in the diversity of their issues. It provides the opportunity to focus on ancient construction techniques. Masonry without cement and yet highly resistant, paraseismic assemblages Examples abound. These performances are achieved with materials found on site and thanks to a savoir faire passed on from generation to generation.
This exhibition presents the typological diversity and richness of spatial arrangements that human societies have given themselves to organize their living premises and work spaces. At this point in time when Fordism, applied to housing since the ideology of the modern movement took hold of architects’ minds, is being giving a pounding, it is essential to remember that as many arts of living exist as cultural nuances and beliefs.
Deidi von Schaewen, photographer, and Pierre Frey, art historian.
Exhibition venue: Magasin électrique, Parc des Ateliers, Rencontres d’Arles 2012.