Streetscapes – Chapter II / Photography and beyond – Part 25 / Architecture as Autobiography / Samuel Bickels (1909–1975)
German theatrical release date: October 12th, 2017 - English or German with English subtitles
World premiere: Sunday, Feb 12th, 2017: 14:00 h at Akademie der Künste
Second screening: Saturday, Feb 18th: 13:45 h at CineStar 8
About the film
22 buildings by the Kibbutz architect Samuel Bickels, filmed in Israel in 2015.
As prologue, the Casa do Povo in São Paulo, as appendix, The Story of Vio Nova.
Shooting on the film Bickels [Socialism] took place in Israel from 14 to 28 May 2015 and on 2 January 2016, and in São Paulo from 30 October to 1 November 2016.
The film shows the following buildings:
Prologue (São Paulo):
Casa do Povo (1953) – Jewish Community Center built by Ernst Mange, Theater by Jorge Wilhelm
Feature Film (Bauten von Samuel Bickels in Israel):
Mishkan Museum of Art (1948), Ein Harod
Barn (1948), Ein Hashofet
Trumpldor House (1949), Tel Yoseph
Ghetto Fighter’s House Museum (1953), Lochamei Hagetaot
Sport House (1955), Beit Hashita
Sport House (1955), Sarid
Borchov House (1957), Mishmar Hanegev
Positioning of Residence Houses (1957), Revivim
Dining Hall (1958), Ein Harod
Bendori House (1959), Givat Hashlosha
Cultural House (1961), Mashabe Sade
Dining Hall (1961), Sde Nachum
Kolin House (1962), Neve Eitan
Members' Club (1965), Beit Oren
Guest House Dining Hall (1965), Beit Oren
Brand House (1965), Efal
Bnei Brit House (1966), Moledet
The Sons House (1966), Shfayim
Beit Ziesling (1969), Ein Harod Meuhad
Miriam House Museum (1969), Palmachim
Dining Hall (1970), Efal
Beit Golomb (1957), Golda Center (1976), Revivim
Appendix (Ein Harod)
The Story of Vio Nova – With paintings by Meir Axelrod
Samuel Bickels was born in Lwów (Lemberg) in Galicia in 1909, in a home that fostered education and high culture. He completed his studies in architecture and engineering at the Polytechnic in Lwów (1928–1931), and then set out for Paris for six months of courses that did not include formal studies. In 1933 he married Clara Project, who was studying for a Physics master’s degree, and migrated with her to Eretz-Israel. His parents, his brothers and most of his family perished in the Holocaust. He was a member of Kibbutz Tel Yosef from the late ’30s, and from 1951 until his death in 1975 he was a member of Kibbutz Beit Hashita.
From the ’50s on he worked in a team with his wife Clara, who assisted him in planning and engaged in drawing plans until her death in 1969. Bickels devoted his energies to planning, and expressed his artistic sensitivity in the emphases of the planning: in the acoustic quality in the concert halls and in the appropriate display space (proportions and lighting) in the museum building.
It is only in recent years that Bickels’ extensive and distinctive architectural work has gained recognition among the professional architectural circles in Israel. Bickels was systematically absent from the Technion’s discussions on kibbutz architecture. He did not participate, for example, in the symposium on “The Planning of a Kibbutz Point” conducted by the Technion’s department of training and further studies in 1958. The architect Abba Elhanani, who was a lecturer at the Technion and the editor of the periodical Tvai, does not mention Bickels in his book Israel Architecture’s Struggle for Independence in the 20th Century (1998). Bickels’ name is also absent from the index of this comprehensive book, which includes scores of Israeli architects.
It would seem that this ignoring of Samuel Bickels in the Israeli architectural discourse attests more than anything to an ignoring of the connection between architecture and a cultural-social agenda. Throughout his life Bickels engaged in this connection and toiled to materialize his conception of it in his master plans, his planning of social, cultural and farming institutions.
Heinz Emigholz' Film deals with sediments of the 20th century – Samuel Bickels buildings of culture, education, communal dining-halls are the heart of an idea, the heart of an interaction, social and cultural. It seems that this architecture reflects a will to create a civilization. These buildings are embedded in a physical-geographical and human environment, each one is a variation, each one is particular, not a prototype, some are still functioning and some are ruins but one feels the involvement with the community, the same as Casa do Povo. This is not an architecture of the "big vision", utopic or dystopic, even-though it has its pathos, but that is not from a standpoint of the hegemonic but of the peripheral culture, minor culture, the periphery of the movement of modernism – displacement and immigration brought these seeds of social architecture – to Israel, to Brazil.
The film deals with architecture that engages with the texture of life, it is organic in its process of duration and adaptation, it gets old in a particular way. So the film follows the traces of time, it traces the buildings in present time, their story – for this is their story. The film does not attempt to reconstruct what may have been there in the past. It is the accumulation of time that these buildings are carrying, the dust, the violence, things that happened and left their traces, this is what we experience as viewers during the film screening.
What is our respond to the cultural and social forms that these buildings represent? We inherited, these buildings, these stories, this past, these are the sediments of the 20th century, dreams horrors, achievements, failures. The film takes us to a tour and via its time and sounds of the present it enables to contemplates time of the past which is always also a way of thinking the future.