The Annual Award of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia in Architecture for Exhibition Curation 2023
Curators
Andres Kurg, Mari Laanemets
Exhibition design
Kaisa Sööt
Graphic design
Indrek Sirkel
Coordinator
Triin Ojari
Curatorial assistant
Kristina Papstel
Assistance in Prague
Irena Lehkoživová, Míša Janečková
Assistance in Budapest
Andi Soós
Translations
Kristina Papstel, Maria-Cristina Morandi, Tereza Pálková
Technical team
Johannes Säre, Dénes Farkas, Mihkel Säre, Hans-Otto Ojaste, Johannes Luik (Dream Team)
Collaboration
The exhibition has been produced in collaboration with the Estonian Academy of Arts and its research was supported by the Estonian Research Council grant (PRG530)
Exhibition at the Estonian Museum of Architecture 20.01.–30.04.2023
20.01.–30.04.2023 Eesti Arhitektuurimuuseum
Photos
Anu Vahtra, Indrek Sirkel, Evert Palmets

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The abundance of visionary thinking that followed the boom of post-war reconstruction is on show, with architects turning to the fantastic as well as the personal to push the boundaries of their discipline towards the metaphysical; for an understanding of the self and the world at large. The exhibition offers a true treasure trove of thinking and drawing. Unexpected parallels emerge across the continent and there are many surprises even for the more cultivated visitor. The show brings household names known for the poetic exploration of architecture’s boundaries – Archigram, Superstudio or Brodsky & Utkin – together with several lesser known but equally inspiring practices. The breadth of the material on display speaks of the networks that existed through exhibitions, publications, and private contacts. Archigram and Casabella were widely read, but it does not mean that they were the sole initiators of innovation or arbiters of vision. On the contrary, the broader geographies that this exhibition maps show a more complex network of resonance, inspiration, and innovation. It shows how sources of ideas, such as new scientific innovation, outer space, play, and gamification of thinking, new anthropological interest in the primitive and the self, and new relationships to ecology as well as built heritage, were shared and explored across the continent.
Märkus Lähteenmäki, Drawing Matter, 30.01.2023

This exhibition staged a meeting point for scientific predictions and futuristic fantasies that were manifested in architecture and art from the 1960s to the 1980s. The exhibition displayed works that emerged from the new technological reality that followed the Second World War and took it along unexpected paths: foreseeing the replacement of work with games and collective pleasures in computerised societies, turning away from the overarching machine logic and replacing it with myths and romantic ideas of the human being, or looking for traces of other civilizations from space, instead of conquering it. A utopia of quantification and of scientific planning, of the separation of life and work, was replaced by a strive for harmony between the machine and nature, the mind and the body. These projects are extensions of a technologized world, ironic and sometimes even absurd situations that present a critique of rationalism and speak of the contradictions of late modern society, demonstrating at the same time both its intellectual horizons and the limits of its utopian fantasies.

During the Cold War, both in the East and the West, the race in science and technology corresponded with a vision for a new kind of future that would be radically different from the present. Rather than a single fixed idea of the future, scientists modelled various scenarios of what was to come. This plurality of futures also influenced intellectual culture, which from the end of the 1960s became characterised by withdrawal from Western humanism and fragmentation into different ideological currents. Ironically, in retrospect the forecasts made during that period tended to show not so much what was to come in the future but rather the intellectual and imaginary paradigms of their present. Focusing on East-European conceptual architecture and drawing it together with selected parallels from the West, this exhibition presented a new reading of the so-called ‘postmodern turn’ in architecture that took place during the 1960s to the 1980s. The exhibition also recontextualised several phenomena and works that have previously been constrained by being categorised according to strict national, school-based or professional delineations: phenomena such as ‘paper architecture’, constructivist aesthetics and geometric abstractionism.