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Christoph Draeger / Heidrun Holzfeind
Tsunami Architecture

The exhibition TSUNAMI ARCHITECTURE will look at the way communities and their architecture were rebuilt in the aftermath of the Tsunami in Southeast Asia. The artists were interested in how the catastrophe – and the flood of aid money – has transformed the affected regions – rebuilt and refashioned local economies and shaped communities.

Six years later, the artists were asking what was achieved, what went wrong and what challenges remain… by interviewing people who were involved in the reconstruction efforts, as well as survivors and eyewitnesses of the catastrophe.

On a three month trip (December 2010 – February 2011) to the five countries most affected – Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Maldives and India – Christoph Draeger and Heidrun Holzfeind investigated the current state of architecture built or reconstructed in the aftermath of the Tsunami. Using video and photography, they documented the long-term effects of the disaster through conversations with survivors, eyewitnesses, aid workers and rescue personnel.

Tsunami Architecture (Two channel video projection).
The synchronized, side-by-side HD video projections make full use of the space’s width – a lot of the footage is by nature quite static (landscapes and buildings), so the two projections won’t compete in a nervous frenzy – the aim is to balance interviews and impressionistic footage. The artists edited a 17 min teaser to give an impression of the material.

Tsunami Found Footage (Video projection, small monitors). The projection shows the real-time video of a German tourist in Khao Lak who observes the arrival of the tidal wave from his hotel on the beach without realizing what is coming, until it is almost too late. He an his family are making it out alive, but barely. Additionally, several monitors with headphones feature short edits of found footage- from DVD’s we found on the trip with TV footage, and Youtube.

Tsunami Architecture (Slide projection). Carousel slide projection with 35mm photographs of different Tsunami resettlements in the five regions the artists visited: Andaman Sea/ Thailand, Banda Aceh/Indonesia, Southwest and East coast of Sri Lanka, Rhaa Atoll/Maldives, Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu/India.

Generic Tsunami (House Model 1:1, wood). Outline of a generic Tsunami house, Indian style (Tamil Nadu)

Voyages Apocalyptiques (7 framed prints, 50 x 60.5 cm, hallway). This project started in 1994, and is ongoing. Of more than 90 photographs, seven pieces feature places in Southeast Asia that were hit by the 2004 Tsunami.

Tsunami Film Set (Collage of Lambda prints). Prints of the documented efforts by a Thai film production which was busy building a set for a movie about the Tsunami. This set was built next to the ruins of an abandoned hotel, destroyed in 2004.

Tsunami experts (Table with Interviews). The table contains 8-10 monitors/headphones showing interviews with people involved in the reconstruction effort (between 10 and 30 minutes), such as the maire of Banda Aceh, Red Cross and NGO managers, architects, school principals, etc. For those who have time to study.

Tsunami Survivors (30 prints, 35 x 52.5 cm each). A series of photographs of Tsunami survivors, standing on the beach. Some of them were also interviewed for the video.

The Tsunami Architecture exhibition first took place at OK Centrum for Contemporary Art, Linz, Austria, March 29-April 29 2012, curated by Martin Sturm and Genoveva Rueckert.

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