Drawings & Paintings
Concrete Forms of Resistance
25 mins | 2019 | HDV
| Filmed in Tripoli, Lebanon, Concrete Forms of Resistance is a documentary centred upon the city’s abandoned ‘Permanent International Fair’, designed by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer in the mid-1960s.
Encompassing international pavilions, theatres, museums, landscaped park and social housing, the vast exhibition complex was to be a public, civic space for economic and cultural exchange, decentralising power from Beirut and healing sectarian divisions. Never completed or operational, the fair's iconic buildings were used by militia forces at the outbreak of Lebanon’s civil war in 1975, and for many years served as a strategic base for the occupying Syrian army.
The film presents layered themes of progress and crisis, material and memory, contrasting the Utopian vision of the original plans with the stark realities of religious conflict, regional instability and rising economic inequalities. The film includes audio interviews from a range of voices, including architect and activist Wassim Naghi, alongside archival recordings of Oscar Niemeyer.
Concrete Forms of Resistance interweaves images and interviews with Tripoli’s artisan carpenters. With a recently restored fair pavilion providing them with a workshop, Tripoli's wood craftsmen provided a key role in the site’s original construction: creating timber ‘formwork’ moulds to cast Niemeyer’s signature curved, organic shapes, and leave impressions of woodgrain on the Brutalist concrete surfaces.
The film's soundtrack features an original score by Sam McLoughlin and David Chatton Barker (Folklore Tapes), combined with field-recordings made inside the fair's 'Experimental Theatre' dome.