Bickels [Socialism]

Bickels [Socialism]

Film by Heinz Emigholz

D 2015-17, DCP, 92 min, 5.1
Streetscapes – Chapter II
Photography and beyond – Part 25
Architecture as Autobiography
Samuel Bickels (1909–1975)

Download Stills


Written and directed by Heinz Emigholz
Voice by Galia Bar Or
Cinematography, Editing: Heinz Emigholz, Till Beckmann
Original Sound: Till Beckmann
Sound Design: Christian Obermaier
Mixing: Jochen Jezussek
Postproduction: Till Beckmann
Production Management São Paulo: Mila Zacharias
Producer: Heinz Emigholz, Galia Bar Or
Produced by Heinz Emigholz Filmproduktion
Funded by Ostrovsky Family Fund, Mishkan Museum of Art Ein Harod, Goethe Institut Tel Aviv, Ann und Ari Rosenblatt
Thanks  Avraham Afori, Evelin Akerman, Roni Azati, Martin Bach, Oded Barsilay, Zipi Bension, Gabriel Rodrigues Borges, Eitan Carmi, Aaron Cutler, Chico Daviña, Ana Druwe, Avital Efrat, Rachel Etkin, Ueli Etter, Hannes Hatje, Nili Heller, Penny Hess-Yassour, Pedro Köberlle, Karine Legrand, Ofir Levi, Tatjana Lorenz, Mariana Lorenzi, Simone Malina, Shira Mor Yosef, Vivian Ostrovsky, Noam Rabinowitz, Luiz Rangel, Tomer Rechtman, Lucas Rodrigues, Katharina von Ruckteschell-Katte, Benjamin Seroussi, Zeev Shabtay, Mariana Shellard, Miriami Shneor, Frieder Schlaich, Lorena Vicini, Rachel Zeidel
and Anamaue, Casa do Povo, Consulado Geral de Israel, Goethe-Institut São Paulo and South America

Copyright 2017 by Heinz Emigholz Filmproduktion

22 buildings by Kibbutz architect Samuel Bickels filmed in Israel 2015. As Prolog the Casa do Povo in São Paulo, as Appendix The Story of Vio Nova.

Shooting on the film Bickels [Socialism] took place in Israel from 14 to 28 May 2015 and on 2 January 2016, and in São Paulo from 30 October to 1 November 2016.

The film shows the following buildings:

Prologue (São Paulo):
Casa do Povo (1953) – Jewish Community Center built by Ernst Mange,
Theater by Jorge Wilhelm

Feature Film (Bauten von Samuel Bickels in Israel):
Mishkan Museum of Art (1948), Ein Harod
Barn (1948), Ein Hashofet
Trumpldor House (1949), Tel Yoseph
Ghetto Fighter’s House Museum (1953), Lochamei Hagetaot
Sport House (1955), Beit Hashita  
Sport House (1955), Sarid  
Borchov House (1957), Mishmar Hanegev
Positioning of Residence Houses (1957), Revivim
Dining Hall (1958), Ein Harod
Bendori House (1959), Givat Hashlosha
Cultural House (1961), Mashabe Sade  
Dining Hall (1961), Sde Nachum   
Kolin House (1962), Neve Eitan
Members' Club (1965), Beit Oren   
Guest House Dining Hall (1965), Beit Oren  
Brand House (1965), Efal
Bnei Brit House (1966), Moledet  
The Sons House (1966), Shfayim
Beit Ziesling (1969), Ein Harod Meuhad
Miriam House Museum (1969), Palmachim
Dining Hall (1970), Efal  
Beit Golomb (1957), Golda Center (1976), Revivim

Appendix (Ein Harod)
The Story of Vio Nova – With paintings by Meir Axelrod

Stills from Bickels [Socialism]:

Samuel Bickels

Samuel Bickels was born in Lwów (Lemberg) in Galicia in 1909, in a home that fostered education and high culture. He completed his studies in architecture and engineering at the Polytechnic in Lwów (1928–1931), and then set out for Paris for six months of courses that did not include formal studies. In 1933 he married Clara Project, who was studying for a Physics master’s degree, and migrated with her to Eretz-Israel. His parents, his brothers and most of his family perished in the Holocaust. He was a member of Kibbutz Tel Yosef from the late ’30s, and from 1951 until his death in 1975 he was a member of Kibbutz Beit Hashita.

From the ’50s on he worked in a team with his wife Clara, who assisted him in planning and engaged in drawing plans until her death in 1969. Bickels devoted his energies to planning, and expressed his artistic sensitivity in the emphases of the planning: in the acoustic quality in the concert halls and in the appropriate display space (proportions and lighting) in the museum building.

It is only in recent years that Bickels’ extensive and distinctive architectural work has gained recognition among the professional architectural circles in Israel. Bickels was systematically absent from the Technion’s discussions on kibbutz architecture. He did not participate, for example, in the symposium on “The Planning of a Kibbutz Point” conducted by the Technion’s department of training and further studies in 1958. The architect Abba Elhanani, who was a lecturer at the Technion and the editor of the periodical Tvai, does not mention Bickels in his book Israel Architecture’s Struggle for Independence in the 20th Century (1998). Bickels’ name is also absent from the index of this comprehensive book, which includes scores of Israeli architects.

It would seem that this ignoring of Samuel Bickels in the Israeli architectural discourse attests more than anything to an ignoring of the connection between architecture and a cultural-social agenda. Throughout his life Bickels engaged in this connection and toiled to materialize his conception of it in his master plans, his planning of social, cultural and farming institutions.
Heinz Emigholz' Film deals with sediments of the 20th century – Samuel Bickels buildings of culture, education, communal dining-halls are the heart of an idea, the heart of an interaction, social and cultural.  It seems that this architecture reflects a will to create a civilization. These buildings are embedded in a physical-geographical and human environment, each one is a variation, each one is particular, not a prototype, some are still functioning and some are ruins but one feels the involvement with the community, the same as Casa do Povo. This is not an architecture of the "big vision", utopic or dystopic, even-though it has its pathos, but that is not from a standpoint of the hegemonic but of the peripheral culture, minor culture, the periphery of the movement of modernism – displacement and immigration brought these seeds of social architecture – to Israel, to Brazil.

The film deals with architecture that engages with the texture of life, it is organic in its process of duration and adaptation, it gets old in a particular way. So the film follows the traces of time, it traces the buildings in present time, their story – for this is their story. The film does not attempt to reconstruct what may have been there in the past. It is the accumulation of time that these buildings are carrying, the dust, the violence, things that happened and left their traces, this is what we experience as viewers during the film screening.

What is our respond to the cultural and social forms that these buildings represent? We inherited, these buildings, these stories, this past, these are the sediments of the 20th century, dreams horrors, achievements, failures. The film takes us to a tour and via its time and sounds of the present it enables to contemplates time of the past which is always also a way of thinking the future.

Galia Bar Or  

Casa do Povo

Casa  do  Povo,  in  the  Brazilian  city  of  São  Paulo,  was  conceived  by  Holocaust  survivors  as  a  Jewish  cultural  centre,  and  built  by  Ernst Mange in 1953. The theatre was designed by Jorge Wilhelm. A  product  of  socialist  ideals,  Casa  do  Povo  became  a  centre  for  resistance  to  the  dictatorial  Brazilian  regime.  The  building  is  currently  being  renovated  by  a  group  of  young  creative  artists,  who intend to turn it into a cultural centre once again. By doing so,  they  hope  to  make  Casa  do  Povo  a  place  to  keep  alive  the  memory  of  the  country’s  political  history,  and  for  innovative  cultural activities.

Galia Bar Or

The story of Vio Nova

Kibbutz Tel Yoseph was the leading centre of the Labour Battalion organisation, a widespread commune of Jewish workers in Palestine based on cooperation and equality. In the late 1920s, about one hundred members left the Labour Battalion and returned to Russia. The first group left secretly in 1927, with a truck and a tractor, and the last group left in 1929.

Palestine was under the ‘capitalist’ British mandate; the economic situation was harsh and they felt that their comrades were not communist enough. Stalin, who oppressed Zionism, promised them a place in the Crimea, and they left in hopes of building a better world there. Since Hebrew was forbidden in Russia, the new kibbutz in the Crimea was named Vio Nova (’a new way’ in Esperanto).

They continued to speak Hebrew and conducted their life the same as they had in Palestine with a communal dining hall, children’s houses, etc. For a few years the kibbutz was successful. Stalin sent journalists and painters as part of a propaganda effort aimed mostly at Jews, proclaiming the failure of Zionism and the success of Soviet Russia. Four painters visited Vio Nova in 1930 and 1931.

The paintings shown in the film that belong to the Ein Harod Museum were painted at that time by Meir Axelrod, and were donated to the museum by his grandson, who immigrated to Israel in the 1990s. Vio Nova was too independent and changes in Stalin’s policy marked its fate. In 1932 the members were forced to accept as members Stalin’s informers. In 1934 the kibbutz was forced to turn into a kolkhoz – not a commune anymore, but a place where every family was on its own. The kolkhoz was named Drojba Nádorov, or ‘The Nation’s Fraternity’.

In the second half of the 1930s, many of the former Labour Battalion members left for Moscow and other places in Russia, and according to estimates, thirty to forty of them were arrested, many never to be seen again. In 1944 when the Germans invaded, one of the ‘new’ inhabitants pointed out the last remaining members of Vio Nova, two women and five children. They were drowned in the old ‘Nation’s Fraternity’ well.

Galia Bar Or