“The dilapidated state of the modernist buildings that were erected in numerous African countries when they achieved independence, parallels the fate of that utopian ideal. [...] Today, many of these government buildings, luxury hotels and schools are decayed, empty or used for some other purpose. They have become monuments to long lost dreams.”
Avenue Patrice Lamumba is Guy Tillim’s photo-statement of Post-colonial modernist decadence. Many towns in the continent have a street remembering the name of one of Africa’s first elected leaders. However, most buildings of this promising 1950s-1960s period, such as the Grande Hotel in Beira, Mozambique, have a rich history of invented uses, initiated by a survival to that turmoil.
As featured in the BI blog, when referring to the topic VACANT, Erandi de Silva recalls the whole cv of the hotel, after Mozambique gained independence from Portugal in 1975. During the civil war 1977-1992, the basement was used to hold political prisoners and the third floor lodged the living quarters of the policemen and army. It followed the use of the whole hotel as refugee camp for 1,000 displaced people. “As a result of social and political change in the context within which the building resides, periods of vacancy repeatedly mark moments of programmatic transition. The life of the space details the history of a place through its use.”
The end of the civil war brought informal squatters inside; after intense looting of every single piece of valuable marble, timber or appliance, landscape and vegetation are eventually the most powerful landlords.
[images> Grande Hotel, Beira, Mozambique. part of the series Avenue Patrice Lamumba by Guy Tillim via Art Tattler]