The architectural culture of Central Europe, which was shaped through the exchanges within the region and its links to other international centers, still remains largely absent from Western historical discourse. Although the transformative stories of modernity are often results of crossing national borders, disciplinary confines or institutional boundaries, they do not fit easily in the current narratives of universal modernism, its national variants and peripheries. This exhibition presents a map of such initiatives and projects that utilized diverse channels of exchange, subverted constrains and expanded the fields of architectural activities – excerpts chosen from the last 100 years of modernity within the heart of Europe.
This is not an exhibition about individual architects and masterpieces but about the ways in which architectural cultures of Central Europe evolved in time. Tracing an international network of people, ideas, institutions, technical solutions, legislation and the encounters allows to fill in the gaps of current historiographies and to better understand the phenomenon of modernity and modernisation, both in Central Europe and in other parts of the world reached by its influence.
The show consists of fragments, hints and paths on a map that still needs to be drawn. It is not a summary but a prelude to a research project, which therefore adopts an open formula and will be complemented throughout the six months of La Biennale.
To show the diversity of networks in the region, case studies are selected from the end of the First World War, when modern states in the region emerged, through the postwar socialist era up to today’s free market democracies. The stories reach across the borders of Austria, Hungary, Poland, former Czechoslovakia, nowadays Czech Republic and Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Macedonia which suceeded former Yugoslavia. Six groups, Experiments, Collectives, Research, Transfers, Encounters and Publics introduce the research field of the project.
The project goes beyond rediscovering history and mapping the past, as its ultimate aim is to revive and foster the current networks in today’s Central Europe. Lifting the curtain – of the Cold War, of national borders and that of disciplinary divisions – is on the way.