Architecture as Evidence, presented in the Octagonal Gallery, Canadian Centre for Architecture, from 16 June to 11 September, explores the role of architectural expertise in a forensic legal analysisof evidence presented at a trial concerning Auschwitz.
As part of their extensive research into the subject, the exhibition’s four curators, Anne Bordeleau, Robert Jan van Pelt, Donald McKay, and Sascha Hastings, have assembled material that together constitutes proof that Auschwitz was designed by Nazi architects as an efficient system of mass extermination. The exhibition presents reproductions of this material: twenty plaster casts of letters, drawings, photographs, purchase orders, and invoices, as well as rebuilt chimneys and gas columns from Auschwitz crematoria. The walls are stark white, and the groups of objects on display are seen as part of a falsely immaculate universe. They are a powerful evocation of the past and of the Nazis’ horrific intentions.
Architecture as Evidence revisits a dark aspect of the twentieth century through architectural practice. The approach of the four curators is to examine “the idea of architecture as a blank slate on which is drawn a variety of activities, analyzing decisions that at first seem innocuous but have murderous consequences, such as converting farmhouses to extermination chambers.” This look into the Nazi era presents “architects and architecture at their most basic and most terrifying.” It also brings to light the potential for architecture to act as legal and forensic proof.