IIIII Columns (pronounced Five Columns) is a platform for expanded and deflated notions of architectural thought & practice. It is about going beyond contemporary venerations of novelty & power, to embrace collectivity and critical storytelling. IIIII Columns is a practice of Melissa J. Frost, sometimes with others.
T 937 COL-UMNS
C Creative Commons
THE EXPERIMENTAL THEATRE
Balazs Pandi — Percussion
Oscar Niemeyer — Architecture
Melissa J. Frost — Narrative / Object
Tripoli, Lebanon / Princeton, NJ
1962: Following the construction of Brasilia, Lebanon's president Fouad Chehab hired Niemeyer to design an expansive public grounds with civic structures in Tripoli's center. Hoping to solidify a modern identity for the fractured country, the pavilions, archways and follys incorporate traditional arabic shapes and motifs with a beton brute of grace and lightness. The 'Experimental Theatre' was different, designed to ricochet, resonate, distort, mute and amplify whatever theatrics should meet it. Within it's bare concrete walls, all sounds becomes experimental ; All within become collaborators.
The project and program to stabilize and transition the country into a peaceful modern state would be indefinitely suspended by decades of war. The Experimental Theatre would be occupied by Syrian troops — it's walls marked as the site of executions, the circular orchestral pit playing an arms dump. Perhaps this is why it appears to sit more heavily on the ground than it's twin in Brasilia.
2012: enter Balazs Pandi, a hungarian percussionist & frequent collaborator of Merzbow, Keiji Haino & Mats Gustafsson. The day he went, he was nearly shot. Tripoli is still very unstable, unsafe, but within Niemeyer's guarded grounds, it is so still. We hear only his and his guide's steps approaching, birds singing outside, and then we hear the Experimental Theatre — every sound is played back by the building. Balazs plays the formwork, wrought metal, hanging, clanging, the concrete and it's bullet holes (((( the exponential echo of shots ringing )))), the resonant sound of utopia suspended.
26 min recording on custom cassette
Folding poster / publication
2014 - Edition of 50
2018 - Edition of 25