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Monthly Design Review - March 2017

In this month's review, an international mix: Angola Cinemas, Bolivian architecture, vintage lighting advertising from Eastern Germany, Muslim life in New York, Revisiting the setting of the French film "La Haine" and Dutch street photography.


ANGOLA CINEMAS by Walter Fernandes and Miguel Hurst (Goethe Institut 2015)

This collection of photographs documents the architecture of Angolan cinemas built in the decades before the end of Portuguese colonial rule in 1975.

From the late colonial modernist structures of the 1930s, to the open-air cine-esplandas that sprung up in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, these structures served as more than just places to catch the latest flick – they were vibrant meeting points for the local communities.

Many have now fallen into disrepair, but the cinemas scattered across Angola still offer a comment on the African nation’s past. Some are even being restored as part of an ongoing project by the Goethe-Institut to celebrate and preserve the cultural heritage of Angola, as it continues to rebuild its identity after the civil war.

To buy the book, go to Steidl Verlag or Amazon.

To learn more about historical movie theaters in Africa, visit the archive started by the Angola's Goethe-Institut


CHANTELOUP-LES-VIGNES. 2016. by Lorenzo Meloni ( 2017)

Twenty-one years after the release of the cult movie on French Suburbs, "La Haine", which was shot by Mathieu Kassovitz in Chanteloup-les-Vignes, Lorenzo Meloni revisited the town which used to be one of Paris' toughest suburban neighbourhoods.

With high unemployment, the absence of public transportation, general dirtiness, and only basic shops, in the 1990s, riots were part of daily life there. Today, Chanteloup-les-Vignes has become a model for a new experiment in urban policy, with a new population settling in and some who left the place years ago now willing to return.

To read and see more photos, visit


PLASTE UND ELASTE - Leuchtreklame in der DDR (Das Neue Berlin, Berlin 2010)

This book explores the beautiful world of light advertisement from Eastern Germany between 1945-1990. It takes a nostalgic look at neon signs advertising factories, brands and as often is the case in communist regimes, also propaganda slogans.

To order the book go to


EL ALTO Peter Granser (Edition Taube 2016)

German photographer Peter Granser frames the work of Bolivian architect Freddy Mamani Silvestre, which can be found in his hometown of El Alto, Bolivia. The architect and his film has completed more than 60 projects since 2005, all recognizable by their colorful façades, asymmetrical paneling and quirky shapes. He designs in an Aymara vernacular of his own invention.

For more information about the architect read this profile in the New Yorker.

To buy the book visit Edition Taube.


MUSLIM IN NEW YORK (Museum of the City of New York, NYC, through July 30th)

Muslim in New York features 34 images by four photographers who have documented Muslim New Yorkers from the mid-20th to the early 21st century. “The desire to put on this exhibition sprang up out of conversations between museum staff regarding how we should respond to current events in today’s political climate,” said Whitney Donhauser, the museum’s president and director. Together these photographs paint a group portrait of New Yorkers who have greatly enriched the life of the city.

For more information about location and opening hours visit the museum's website.


ED VAN DER ELSKEN - Camera in Love (Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, through May 2017)

The Stedelijk presents the largest overview of the photographic work of Dutch photographer Ed van der Elsken (1925-1990) in twenty five years. A unique figure, Van der Elsken was renowned as a street photographer, and is recognized as the most important Dutch photographer of the 20th century. The exhibition includes about 200 prints and a dozen films, beginning with his postwar work in Amsterdam and Paris, moving chronologically as he traveled the globe and ending with the film “Bye” he made as the last chapter of his life, after he learned in 1988 that he had incurable prostate cancer. Van der Elsken, said the exhibition's curator, explored the “questions that arise when we begin this elimination of the walls between what we are and how the others look at us. This idea of just being permanently exposed.”

For more information about location and opening hours visit the museum's website.


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