Building Under Ground

2008 / 16mm / color-b&w / silent / 1S / 42' 00

The film follows the construction of the new expansion of Zurich's Museum Rietberg, from the groundbreaking in May 2004 through to the opening in February 2007.

"Aurand's unparalleled access to the construction site provides an attentive eye towards the meticulous labour involved. Remarkably, her staccato style creates a formal echo with the construction we see taking place. Her quick shots refer back to the basic construction of filmmaking—that of single frames placed on the screen in quick succession. Therefore her image bursts, much like bricks and mortar, construct moving pictures out of fragments much like the labourers build up the museum wing from under the ground. Aurand shares her process of discovery: as the building unfolds before her, the film is constantly re-energized by new explorations of the architectural space. The museum alone is a stunning example of design, but Aurand’s ability to find new visual surprises in the myriad details of the building—using holes in the walls as frames, considering the shadows of a slatted stairwell, compressing the perspective on a series of latticed walls—moves this well beyond a document of a building into a passionate call to look. (...) Often highlighted in these moments is a formal precision, where Aurand finds an echo in nature, or in stone, to the action of the labourers she is following . What it also does is link the past to the present, by connecting the art and artifacts that the museum holds (Museum Reitberg is Switzerland’s only museum devoted to the arts from Asia, Africa, America and Oceania) to the present tense of the space they will inhabit, providing a sense of continuity that mirrors the architect’s desire to merge the new wing with the rest of the museum. (...) The last sequence, where a group of clay musicians dance, reanimates the joy in the act of creation. In case the significance of the entire architectural undertaking is overlooked, Aurand finds it again in the gestures of tiny ancient dolls."
— Chris Kennedy, In Present Tense: Films of Ute Aurand


distribution format 16mm
screen 1,37 - Standard (single screen)
speed 24 fps
sound silent
rental fee 153,00 €