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Paul Tunge

Modernist and forgotten: an exploration of the architectural heritage in Norway.

When we asked Paul Tunge how he made "Bauta" he let us known that it involved his fellow director Egil Håskjold Larsen and him traveling along about 2500 kilometers in Norway, doing the planning and the shooting by themselves. "It was amazing," he commented.

"Bauta" is a lovesong for an unexpected object of desire: the modernist buildings in Norway. While in some other countries, modernist architecture is highly looked up to and represents one of the greatest heritage in terms of forms and visions, Norway seems to have another approach to it - even if the Scandinavian country is one of the most attentive one in its cultural politics, supporting artists and providing them with many cultural grants, Paul Tunge said it was very complicated to find funds for such a project. He commented he found Norway not to be interested in "documenting modernist architecture and shine a light on buildings people rarely get to see," a task he found important, "as many buildings can be threatened to be torn down as entrepreneurs and politicians get their way". He made the example of the Y-Blokka, a 1969 modernist building with a large Picasso mural by Erling Viksjo in the government quarter of Oslo's city center, site of the 2011 bombing by the far-right militant racist Anders Behring Breivik, and now threatened to be torn down.

Wanting to preserve a testimony of all these both famous and little-known buildings scattered around Norway and trying to gain them more attention, Paul and Egil drove around the country. A long and hard work that then took the form of "BAUTA", a sort-of continuous long sequence, an endless journey in concrete and brutalist-looking buildings. Among them, we spotted Geir Grung's power plants built from the 60s, deeply isolated in the fjords and Sverre Fehn's Nordic Pavilion in Venice (an exception that needed to be included).
We see snowy landscapes, mist in the air, abandoned places, sport centers, power plants: the variety of uses and of occupancies of the selected buildings is important, of course, but so is the way the directors wanted to present them, giving no information, not wanting to entertain, but presenting architecture as it is and as it was planned by architects, with its lights, angles, and textures.

Before "BAUTA" they also made another long feature on modernist churches in Norway, "AD ASTRA", soon on The Architecture Player, for which he "went through about 1500 churches to select the 15 ones I shot". "AD ASTRA" and "BAUTA" might be two rather quiet and plain documentaries, but they made architecture the center of their investigations: two tributes for architecture lovers and enthusiasts from one of them.

(Story by Sara Marzullo, The Architecture Player)


Director: Egil Håskjold Larsen
Architects: Geir Grung, Sverre Fehn, various
Mentioned project: Nordic Pavilion, Venice (1962), various
Project location: Norway and Venice, Italy
Production: Andrea Berentsen Ottmar
Composer: Kim Hiorthøy

Norway 2018
Duration: 20'55"