Still from ‘Action Painting, Body Planning’ by Albert Brenchat-Aguilar, work in progress for the exhibition ‘As Hardly Found in the Art of Tropical Architecture’, 2022

Opens on 20 January 2023 at the Architectural Association Gallery, 36 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3ES, and is open to the public until 25 March. An opening event on 19 January 2023 will include a panel discussion with the commissioned artists. More details soon.

‘As Hardly Found in the Art of Tropical Architecture’, curated and coordinated by Birkbeck History of Art PhD candidate Albert Brenchat-Aguilar, will explore ad-hoc curatorial strategies that challenge the single perspective of the archives of the Department of Tropical Studies (DTS) at the Architectural Association. From the 1950s–60s, the DTS’s work in the Global South included a reorganisation of architectural institutions; regulation of planning practice and legislation; and training of leading architects from Ghana, Nigeria, India, Singapore, and other countries. 

The current DTS archive appears as a coherent whole without much space for dissent. The real DTS archive could only ever exist as an exhaustive collection of papers from all those throughout the world whose hard work is hardly found in the archive, including the artists, architects, typists, graphic designers, masons, surveyors, and others who collaborated with DTS architects — who at times were excluded and at times rejected to be present in the archive. This exhibition recentres their rich and diverse ecological approaches to the built environment through an ensemble of archival documents, fictional archival reconstructions, and artworks by Magda Cordell, Avinash Chandra, Bruce Onobrakpeya, Susanne Wenger, and others who worked with DTS architects. Finally, the exhibition includes commissions by artists Ato Jackson and Mariana Castillo Deball that explore hardly found marks in the archive as potential histories for alternative futures.