Um Ponto De Fuga

quarta-feira, 6 de julho de 2005

How Architecture Commemorates Tragedy

Jumping from tragicomedy to theory, Arad traced the road to where he is now: from his early days of pretending to go on paternity leave so that he could finish his memorial proposal, to having an unintelligible phone conversation with the memorial jury during the final round of decision-making. “I couldn’t hear anything that they were saying,” he said. “Maybe that’s why they selected me.”

In contrast to Arad’s self-deprecation, Eisenman--the next speaker--was confident and chatty. The designer of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe admitted that anti-Semitism only first disturbed him when, as a ten-year-old Jew, he wasn’t allowed to dance with the Gentiles at the school events. “I’d look at the lovely blonde girls,” he said, “and think something was wrong.” His Berlin memorial, he claimed, didn’t answer questions about how people could allow the Holocaust to happen, or how people could recover and heal; rather, it articulated a singular experience. Indeed: in the course of his design research, Eisenman spoke to an Auschwitz survivor who described his mindset while at the death camp: speechless, silent, alone, disoriented, lost in space. With those words, Eisenman found his memorial.

Coming at the memorial process from a different direction, Blumenthal, the CEO of the Jewish Museum Berlin, discussed the difficulties of making Daniel Libeskind’s stand-alone museum a functional building. Commenting on Eisenman’s Berlin memorial, he added that he doubted all Germans would read it in the way the architect had intended, or even recognize that articulation, rather than response, was the crux of the memorial’s success. But that said, he didn’t think that disconnect would lessen the piece’s effect.

During the talk’s question-and-answer period, an audience member questioned the validity of spending millions of dollars to romanticize history. Why build an ultimately functionally useless memorial, he asked, when so many Holocaust survivors are in dire need of financial assistance? Eisenman and Young vehemently disagreed, while Arad stepped up, summarizing the last hour-and-a-half. “The memorial is there to provide an experience,” he said. “I wouldn’t see that as romanticizing.”


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