Discreet Violence

Architecture and the French War in Algeria
Wolfgang Pauli-Strasse 15, 08093 Zürich Map
Mon–Fri 8 am–10 pm, Sat 8 am–5 pm

Over the course of the Algerian Revolution (1954–1962) the French civil and military authorities profoundly reorganized Algeria’s urban and rural territory, drastically transformed its built environments, rapidly implanted new infrastructure, and strategically built new settlements in order to keep Algeria under French rule.

The exhibition features one aspect of these territorial transformations: the construction of militarily controlled camps dubbed the “centres de regroupement.” These spaces resulted from the creation of the forbidden zones—free fire zones—and engendered massive forced relocations of the Algerian population. Special military units called the Sections administratives spécialisées supervised the evacuation of the forbidden zones, the regroupement of the Algerian population, the construction of temporary and permanent camps, the conversion of a number of permanent camps to villages, and monitored the daily life of Algerian civilians.

Based on military visual records, “Discreet Violence: Architecture and the French War in Algeria” exposes the building processes of the “centres de regroupement” and discloses the ways with which the French colonial authorities attempted to detour the military purpose of the camps in the aftermath of a media scandal. The exhibition unfolds the intrinsic relationships between architecture, military measures, and colonial policies.