The Evidence Room, by Anne Bordeleau, Sascha Hastings, Donald McKay and Robert Jan van Pelt, is on display in the Central Pavilion at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia: “Reporting from the Front” – curated by Alejandro Aravena.
On invitation of Alejandro Aravena, Artistic Director of the 15th International Architecture Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia – Anne Bordeleau, Sascha Hastings, Donald McKay, and Robert Jan van Pelt, together with a team of students and consultants from The University of Waterloo School of Architecture in Cambridge, Ontario, present a work that summarizes the forensic analysis of the architecture of Auschwitz, within Aravena’s larger group exhibition “Reporting From the Front”.
In 2000, in a trial held in London, England, a notorious British Holocaust denier sued an American historian and her publisher for libel. At issue: did the Holocaust really happen, or was the planned and systematic murder of six million European Jews an elaborate hoax? The meaning of the architectural evidence took centre stage. Ultimately, forensic interpretation of the blueprints and architectural remains of Auschwitz became crucial in what remains to date the most decisive victory against Holocaust denial, compelling evidence of the Nazi campaign of murder.
University of Waterloo architecture professor Robert Jan van Pelt served as the expert witness on Auschwitz in the Trial. His report – published as The Case for Auschwitz – became one of the sources of inspiration for a new discipline located at the intersection of architecture, technology, history, law, and human rights: architectural forensics. In order to present this material, he joins with Professors Anne Bordeleau and Donald McKay, and independent arts producer, Sascha Hastings, to design and produce The Evidence Room.
The Evidence Room consists of life-sized replicas and casts of key pieces of architectural evidence (a gas column and a gas-tight hatch – both for the introduction of poison into the gas chambers – a gas chamber door, blueprints, architects’ letters, contractors’ bills, and photographs). Taken together, they provide proof, beyond reasonable doubt, that Auschwitz was a purposefully designed factory of death, equipped with large, homicidal gas chambers and massive incinerators.
The Evidence Room, as an installation, offers a tangible summary of an exhaustive body of work.
The Evidence Room is at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia from May 28 to November 27, 2016. A book, also called The Evidence Room, is published by New Jewish Press (www.newjewishpress.ca).
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Robert Jan van Pelt
Jean-Jacques van Vlasselaer
New Jewish Press (Andrea Fochs Knight and Malcolm Lester)
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Student Mentor and Patron:
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With thanks to:
Enrica Abbate, Marlon Almanza, Alejandro Aravena, Tom Barber, André Bélanger, Ilia Bélanger Bordeleau, Laure Bélanger Bordeleau, Giovanni Bergamo, Marina Bertaggia, Shirley Blumberg, Giovanna Borasi, Joern Brandmeyer, Wade Brown, Gerardo Cejas, George Dixon, Nenone Donaldson, Sarah Durand de la Penne, Luis Ferreiro, Wayne Fisher, Esmay Gotz, Erin Sargeant Greenwood, Rick Haldenby, Feridun Hamdullahpur, Oleg Izvekov, Dan Jessel, Heinz Kohler, Agustina Labarca, Sébastian Larivière, Delphine Lesage, Manuela Lucà-Dazio, Manfredi Manera, Jolin Masson, Bryan May, Eitan Mazor, Mary Misner, Sandra Montagner, Matt Oliver, Carrie Paddock, Carlos Pallieri, Robert Papka, Wayne Parker, Patrick Pellerin, Lorenzo Pignatti, Luigi Ricciari, Gregory Rybak, Terry Schmidt, Lola Sheppard, Robin Simpson-McKay, Julie Skelly, Beverley Slopen, Pearl Sullivan, Ashton Waters, Mike Wilson, Simon Yu, Mirko Zardini, Djamel Zeniti.
The Gerald Schwartz & Heather Reisman Foundation
The Azrieli Foundation
Mark and Lindy Mandelbaum
Ontario Association of Architects
Robert and Penny Richards
The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
The University of Waterloo
The Jack Weinbaum Family Foundation
Tom and Sasha Weisz
Jonathan and Susan Wener
DHL Global Forwarding
Phidon Pens Limitied
Joy Roberts and Dough McMullen
Royal Architectural Institute of Canada
Robert Jan van Pelt
Collaborators (ex officio) within the University of Waterloo:
Mike den Haan: Associate Vice-President, Principal Gifts
Fred Hunsberger: Multi Media Specialist, School of Architecture
Sarah Nichols: Academic Administrative Manager, School of Architecture
Bonnie Oberle: Associate Director, Leadership Giving
Mona Skuterud: Administrative Officer, School of Architecture
Collaborating Institutions and Organizations:
The Canadian Centre for Architecture
Musealia Entertainment SL
The New Jewish Press