Category:memorials

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So Dan Hill's posted another of his typically incisive analysis of an urban situation. This time it's his extended and engrossing account of visiting Linked Hybrid, the massive urban development in Beijing, designed by Steven Holl Architects, which was just opening at the time [late 2009].

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above and top via cityofsound

After being repeatedly shooed away by gun-toting guards from what Holl had pitched as "an open and porous public space," Hill found his way in, and eventually ended up in the marketing office where there's this poster of--what to call it without sounding utterly inappropriate? A bombshell? A landmine? A plane flying into a tower?:

More incredibly again, the adjacent wall features another poster of exaggerated Hybrid-like building on an urban skyline, under the phrase:

"Let citizens all over the world gather under the banner of the United States with the spirit of freedom."

What can this possibly mean in this context? The absorption of the brand of 'starchitecture' is easy to see in a culture shifting through the gears of consumer culture, but of the brand of the United States?

That's no moon. It's the proposal for Memorial Square, the World Trade Center site put forward in 2002 by Holl, Charles Gwathmey, RIchard Meier, and Peter Eisenman, or as they called themselves at the time, the Dream Team.

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Memorial Square, 2002, "Dream Team," image via renewnyc.org

At the time--the day after the unveiling, actually, at a screening of my short film, Souvenir (November 2001), which was followed by Etienne Sauret's incredible documentary short, The First 24 Hours--I recognized the form the Dream Team was proposing as a gargantuan evocation of the fragments of the World Trade Center's facade.

They denied the reference, even as they awkwardly argued and edited around it on the Charlie Rose Show. But I think it's self-evident. Anyone wanting to argue otherwise to me should read those two posts and the links within first. Then I'll tell you my story about asking Eisenman about it face-to-face.

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What's fascinating now, though, in rewatching that Charlie Rose episode, is not the Dream Team proposal's basis in the wreckage of the World Trade Center, but its multiple similarities to Holl's Linked Hybrid.

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Holl and Meier especially discussed the Memorial Square proposal as primarily a public space, one which is entered from the city by "multiple portals." Holl even calls the structure a "hybrid."

While the Team took great pains to deny the proposal had any "signature" style, I would speculate otherwise. The overall concept of structure capturing "a moment" in history and memory comes from Eisenman's proposal [above] for Herbert Muschamp's WTC charette.

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Meanwhile, the form is Holl's, as is the idea that its entire surface would glow at night on one face. The rendering resembles nothing so much as the skyscraper cousin to Holl's residence for the Swiss ambassador to Washington.

Dan Hill makes a persuasive critique of the simultaneous successes of Linked Hybrid as a structure and its failure as the open urban experience Holl envisioned. And it's tempting to take comfort from afar and tut-tut the clunky shortcomings of Chinese modernization. But
are the urban and sociological failures of Linked Hybrid really any better or worse than the manipulated politicized mess that Daniel Libeskind's World Trade Center plan has wrought?

I think the more sobering path is to recognize the remarkable extent to which Holl succeeded in realizing his Dream Team's proposal for downtown Manhattan in Beijing--and to acknowledge that, there but for the grace of George Pataki go we.

Linked Hybrid's marketers invite "citizens all over the world [to] gather under the banner of the United States with the spirit of freedom." But on this day, when citizens all over the world gather to protest the continued imprisonment of Ai Weiwei, the co-creator [with Swiss architects Herzog & deMeuron] of the China's most famous public building, the Bird's Nest Olympic stadium, can we really say "our" public sphere is superior, or even free?

Architecturally speaking, at least, we are all New Yorkers now, and Beijingers, too.

October 24, 2010

Observations On/From Towers

Last May, while solving the problem of Gettysburg and reuniting the opposing forces of History--Civil War battlefield aficionados seeking to "restore" the "hallowed ground" of Cemetery Ridge and the modernists and historical preservationists who wish to stop them from demolishing Richard Neutra's Cyclorama building--I myself was smitten by the archival/architectural awesomeness of the steel observation tower [below], which was built by the War Department in 1895 on the [equally hallowed, I'm sure] Confederate line.
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[My idea, of course, is to adapt Neutra's ramp-centered structure into a disabled/wheelchair-accessible observation platform, an accommodation which is sorely lacking in the current Park Service program for the site, and then to integrate a museum/memorial to the tens of thousands of soldiers wounded--and disabled--in the battle. We're so quick to memorialize those who were lost, while forgetting or ignoring those who survived, and have to grapple for the rest of their lives with the effects of war.]

Anyway, two added pieces of information:

While I have not been able to find much in the way of history or documentation for the 1895 towers [there used to be five; now there are 2.5], I have discovered two accounts of a re-enactment of Pickett's Charge in July 1922, on the occasion of the 59th anniversary of the battle. On July 2 President Warren G. Harding and his wife observed a rehearsal re-enactment by 5,000 marines and veterans from an observation tower [since removed] on Cemetery Ridge itself.

[Bonus architectural note: The President and Mrs. Harding were quartered at the Marine camp in what the New York Times called, "a temporary White House of canvas and wood. The structure is equipped with elaborately fitted sleeping rooms, baths, electric lights and even has a front porch." A search for photos has already begun. update: and may be over. Is this it, from the LOC?]

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Another account, dated July 4th, after the Hardings had departed, comes from Mrs Helen Longstreet, the widow of the Commander of the Confederate forces at Gettysburg. It's not clear, but I like to imagine that she observed the re-enactment--"staged today with marvelous accuracy in every detail, exactly as I have heard General Longstreet describe it hundreds of times"--from the still-extant observation tower on the field:

As the twilight of this calm July day deepened into dusk I overtook one of "Longstreet's boys," a one-armed veteran, trudging wearily "up Emmitsburg Road."

"Where did you lose your arm?" I inquired. He answered: "In Pickett's charge; and it was powerful hard to lose my arm and be whipped, too; and what was the use of it?"

Someone standing near pointed to the Observation Tower and said: "Do you see the flag that floats up there? The stars on its blue field are all the brighter, its red stripe all the deeper, its white stripe all the purer, because you left an arm in front of Cemetery Hill in Pickett's charge. That was the use of it. That was the good of it."

And so the tread of marching armies and the roar of cannon over the Summer lands of Pennsylvania call the American people to express the value of the titanic struggles of the '60s in deeper love and pride of country.

And the other thing, holy moley, have you seen the observation tower built by the Graz/Munich-based landscape design firm Terrain in a nature preserve along the Mur River in Styria, Austria?? 27.5 meters high, double rectangular spiral of black steel and tension rods, plus aluminum staircases.

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Not that I thought anyone might be wavering on the architectural merits of observation towers or anything, just, wow.

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[images: just two of many at Abitare]

September 11, 2010

Cretto Street View

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Christopher Knight took the occasion of an Alberto Burri retrospective in Santa Monica to tweet about Cretto, the artist's absolutely incredible 20-acre memorial/earthwork, in which the earthquake ruins of the Sicilian town of Gibellina were encased in a grid of concrete. I'd mentioned Cretto in 2006, including a basic Google Map image.

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Well, Street View has come to Gibellina. At some point, I suspect no one will marvel at the idea of using your laptop to drive around the backroads of Sicily, or to dive into geotagged photos of remote land artworks. But that point is not yet. The Street View images in particular have a great, desaturated feel that makes me imagine I'm right there for the ribboncutting. The future and the past is now.

Cretto, Alberto Burri/Ruins of Gibellina [google maps]
Related: finding Double Negative has never been easier

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The Park Service's stated goal for Gettysburg is the "rehabilitation" of the battlefield to its 1863 condition by removing modern structures like Richard Neutra's Cyclorama Center [designed, it should have been noted a long time ago, with Robert Alexander] and the visitors center next to it [already gone] which are built on "hallowed ground." Which is not quite so simple.

In Gettysburg: memory, market and an American shrine, his 2003 history of the ongoing cultural battle over the site and its meaning, Jim Weeks looked at the controversy over the Park Service plan to create a big, new privately operated visitor center/museum offsite. This wasn't "Disneyfication," it was, in the words of John Latscher, the Gettysburg superintendent who spearheaded the deal, "re-sanctifying" the battlefield. [emphasis added on the tiny but powerful rhetorical device that automatically transforms anyone who disagrees into John Wilkes Booth.]

The rehabilitation/re-sanctification plan to remove post-1863 structures does have some loopholes: anything in the middle of the battlefield but on private land across the street, as long as it serves popcorn chicken and/or deliciously dark chocolate pies for a limited time only; the 1392 or 1600 markers and monuments placed by "the veterans themselves," or whomever; and the three remaining observation towers the War Department built.

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Let me go on record that, should it ever be threatened with demolition, I will email every architect and journalist I know to save the observation tower on West Confederate Avenue; that thing is a freaking masterpiece. Let's get that out there right now, because I don't find much information or discussion about it at all. [Here's another of the three, dated 1895, the year the War Dept took charge of the Memorial Park, which is super-short. It looks like there were structural problems, and it was chopped in 1960. Note that it wasn't torn down completely; I think I'll come back to that in a minute.]

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What do you get for your steep, 6-7 story climb up the steel cage? A great view, of course. But also understanding. Context. Orientation. It's the place where people tell stories of troop movements and battle strategies. There is much pointing. All across a vast landscape like this, we saw people orienting themselves, spotting landmarks, and telling stories. They were mapping the action and the meaning, translating history onto the site in front of them.

Weeks' book notes that observation points have been a popular and vital feature of visitors' experience at Gettysburg from very early on. Some are natural spots, like the promontories of Little Round Top and the Copse of Trees at Cemetery Ridge. Some were built, like Round Top Park, the War Dept. towers [there used to be five], the Pennsylvania State Monument--and the Cyclorama Center. The biggest observation tower, built on private land, was seized and destroyed in 2000 after an intermittent, 26-year legal battle. Weeks draws the connection between the dioramas and orientation maps, the cycloramas--almost all of which had their origins in commercial/entertainment enterprises--and the site itself; arguably, facilitating this mental transition from representation to site was the major justification for placing the Cyclorama so close to its focal point, the top of Cemetery Ridge, in the first place.

One common feature of these observation points is the orienting device: arrows pointing toward key sites or events. Here is the welded steel plate on the War Dept tower:

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Which was the third one I noticed, after [1] the compass mark handcarved into the granite floor and [2] the incredible cast bronze plaques on the parapets of the Pennsylvania State Monument. [Which, by the way, is a gigantic Beaux Art mess, a Columbia Exposition knockoff whose looming, continued presence exposes the whole idea of re-creating the 1863 battlefield to be little more than conceptual cover fire to advance a subjective set of pre-determined alteration strategies.]

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These arrows, on these structures, point, I believe, to a possible future for Neutra's Cyclorama: restore and reconfigure it as an observation and orientation platform for Cemetery Ridge. Neutra already included an observation platform and ramp [see house industries' photo below]; adapting the empty rotunda for observation would hew close to the building's original function on its original site, while minimizing the loss of Neutra's and Alexander's key design elements.

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Then there's precedent: the Park Service's stated strategy of 1863 rehabilitation nevertheless preserves several post-1863 observation structures, including the unassailable Pennsylvania Monument and three of the five towers apparently installed by the War Department at the founding of the Memorial Park. One is apparently historical and/or functional enough to preserve even after being truncated to just one story up--roughly the same height as the Cyclorama's existing deck.

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A Cyclorama Observation Platform would also offer something completely unique: accessibility. All other observation spots we saw involved stairs, curbs, or uneven wooded trails. [The Pennsylvania Monument's vantage point is reached by a single, awesomely treacherous spiral staircase lined with stamped bronze paneling that'd do a SoHo loft ceiling proud.] Much of the battlefield itself--and thus the monuments scattered across it--quickly becomes inaccessible to disabled or wheelchair-using visitors.

An entirely ramp-based observation structure would enhance the battlefield experience for millions of visitors who would otherwise be confined to their cars. [Oh, look! Neutra's already got two ramps built right in! image above: houseindustries.com]

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In fact, a speculative observation platform proposal has already been floated. The Boston-based architecture firm CUBE design + research used Neutra's Cyclorama Center to illustrate a range of alternatives to strict historical preservation. One idea [above]: turning the Cyclorama as "informant" and "information hub," by making strategic, view-framing cuts in the rotunda. It's a pretty radical alteration, the kind of thing that keeps traditional preservationists up at night. And as proposed/rendered, I think many of Cube's solutions go way too far. But they're spurring discussion, not answering an RFP, and in that, they succeed.

Piercing Neutra's rotunda in places might still work, perhaps in combination with another of CUBE's suggestions, to place the Park Service's historic electric relief map in the building. Or perhaps a large-scale relief map could be made for blind visitors to gauge the scale and detail of the terrain. In either case, a multi-sensory narrative program could be devised that integrates such artifacts with views out of the building onto the actual battlefield. [Something like the light and sound effects on the new Cyclorama installation, which seem to be state-of-whatever-art-these-sorts-of-things-are.]

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Another possibility just came to me this morning: the 2006 proposal Olafur Eliasson made for the Hirshhorn Museum, a similarly love-to-hate, modernist concrete barrel on a major civic site. Eliasson proposed wrapping Gordon Bunshaft's building with a suspended glass walkway that afforded sprawling views of the National Mall, something akin to the exterior escalator tubes at the Pompidou. [images: from the bookshelf-straining insanity that is Taschen's Studio Olafur Eliasson: An Encyclopedia.]

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Maybe an information-filled ramp could spiral up the inside of Neutra's rotunda--a history of the wounded, perhaps, and their heroism and their tales of endurance and remembrance--and then let visitors out to wind their way down the outside, where they could then descend along the original ramp onto the battlefield itself. At least as far as their wheelchairs can take them.

The Park Service and Gettysburg Foundation claim the current battlefield rehabilitation plan provides great "environmental benefits," even as the courts find they have failed to undertake the basic impact studies required by law.

Worse than this, though, is the active, and ongoing denial of the equality of us all--by denying equal access to key parts of the battlefield experience, such as observation platforms--on the very battleground of freedom made sacred by the sacrifices of life. And limb.

Next: Observations from/on Towers and The Wound Dresser, set in stone, rest stops on the journey Toward a Cyclorama-shaped Gettysburg Memorial to The Wounded

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The significance of the battle at Gettysburg was seized upon almost immediately, both for the vast scale of the casualties, but also because of the strategic and symbolic importance in the North of repelling the Confederate incursion. Dealing with overwhelming death, destruction, and injury immediately overwhelmed the town, and thousands of visitors streamed in to find and help family members.

Efforts to memorialize the battle and secure the battlefield also began immediately. Lincoln's address just four months later was, after all, at the dedication of the National Solders Cemetery on a fought-over piece of land. Within weeks, historian John Bachelder began interviewing officers and attempting to pinpoint key movements and events leading up to and following the battle. And after the war, he prepared a comprehensive, if unreconciled, report of thousands of interviews and onsite surveys with survivors. Land acquisition also kicked in immediately, and a Gettysburg Battle Memorial Association was quickly formed. Because of its proximity and well-developed transportation, Gettysburg quickly became a popular tourist destination.

Memorials were placed on the battlefield to mark the sites of action engaged by individual regiments in the 1870s, but the pace picked up in the 1880s, as the 25th anniversary of the battle approached. As Wikipedia has it, survivors of the battle returned to the land to remember their individual and collective experiences, and to mark their significant events--battles, movements, victories, deaths--on the site itself:

For the Union side, virtually every regiment, battery, brigade, division, and corps has a monument, generally placed in the portion of the battlefield where that unit made the greatest contribution (as judged by the veterans themselves). Most regiments also have boundary markers placed to show their positions in defensive lines or in the starting lines for their assaults. The placements are not always definitive, due to sometimes faulty memories of the veterans or to the problems resulting from attempts to represent multiple days of battle fought on the same ground, most notably Cemetery Ridge.
When the site was transferred to the War Department, over 1,600 bronze markers were erected, based on the official history of the battle [not Bachelder's].

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The non-profit Gettysburg Foundation calls it "The largest collection of outdoor sculpture in the world." But it's even more than that. All these structures, sculptures, and monuments fill the landscape and connote a previous generation's specific strategy of remembrance. And each, no matter how subjective, seemingly incidental, or retrospectively problematic, now bears the weight of that generation's history.

Even a fence. At some point in the past, a section [reportedly a quarter of the original size] of the Copse of Trees which was Gen. Lee's chosen focal point for the Confederate attack was rendered sacred, like a home cemetery, and fenced off from public access. The generic 19th century wrought iron fence, damaged by a fallen tree, but set for restoration, is visible behind this c.1880s War Dept. plaque for the Fifteenth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry:

The position of this regiment in line of battle
is marked by its monument
235 yards due south.

It charged up to this point and attacked Pickett's
division in flank as his troops were coming
over the stonewall.

The battlefield sprouted other structures alongside these markers and memorials. In 1884, at the height of the Cycloramas' popularity, the railroad laid tracks across the field of Pickett's Charge to its new Round Top Park, an entertainment center on Little Round Top. A casino was added in 1913, the year the Boston Cyclorama came to Gettysburg in time for the Great Reunion, a conciliatory event that brought over 50,000 Civil War veterans together at Gettysburg. The veterans from all states re-enacted Pickett's Charge, which ended with the exchange of handshakes and speeches. [It wasn't until 1939, after the 75th anniversary, that the amusement park's structures, and the tracks themselves, were removed.]

After WWII, Pres. Eisenhower's development of the interstate highway system was coupled with the National Park Service's Mission 66, a 10-year strategic plan to increase the accessibility of its sites to cars, and to provide high-quality interpretive services for its increasing throngs of visitors. Eisenhower took particular interest in Gettysburg where, while president, he decided to purchase his first home, a farm, precisely because it was built on battlefield ground. He retired to the house in 1959; it is now a presidential memorial within the expanded Military Park.

Thus is the victory of World War II, and the postwar boom, and our modern entertainment experience culture inextricably intertwined with the memorial to the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. And now we have a brief movie lesson by Morgan Freeman, and an economy where the only jobs in town that don't involve wearing a hoop skirt are selling Civil War Orange Fudge at the Gettysburg Outlet Mall. But as the railroads and casinos and dance halls--and the Cyclorama itself--show, this spectacle- and souvenir-centered culture is not a transformation or desecration, only an upgrade in technology.

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Cyclorama Center rendering, Richard Neutra, via mission66.com

But Mission 66 was too much of a good thing. The Park Service has long strained under its visitor volume; some structures were outgrown, others left to decay because of deferred maintenance. Many, like Neutra's Cyclorama, were built in a mid-century modernist idiom, which preservationists have been slow to preserve, and which the Park Service [currently] hates. According to Mission 66 architectural historian Christine Madrid, the Park Service considers the modernist structures "a post-war mistake." And they bridle, not only at their historical significance, but at the very notion that the Park Service is not the author and custodian of history, but just the biggest of its many actors.

Next: The Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Battlefield

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We just got back from a weekend trip to Gettysburg, PA, and I was not quite prepared to be so fascinated by it. Gettysburg the town was attacked the Confederate Army in the Civil War partly because of its symbolic value [as a Northern target], but also because so many roads converged there. It turned out several of the meandering paths I'm interested in converged there, too.

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Without knowing exactly where it was, I was interested in seeing the closed Cyclorama Center, designed in 1962 by Richard Neutra. In 2008, after relocating the Cyclorama itself--one of four extraordinary 359-ft long panoramic paintings made in the 1880s by Paul Philippoteaux [three remain]--to a new Visitors Center, the National Park Service began trying to demolish Neutra's Cyclorama Building. Neutra's son Dion and other preservationists are contesting this plan in court.

Well, it turns out the Cyclorama's right on Cemetery Ridge, near the Confederate Army's key attack on the center of the Union line. Which turns out to make sense, because that site was the focal point Philippoteaux chose for the paintings. This Cyclorama was on display in Boston for many years, until it was relocated to Gettysburg the town in 1913. The Park Service bought it, restored it, and then re-sited it to the very site it depicted, in time for the 100th anniversary of the battle.

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The Park Service's reasons against keeping the Cyclorama Building are partly logistical--it couldn't accommodate the current number of visitors and cars; partly technological--the state of the Cyclorama art now involves multimedia light and sound elements, as well as 3D dioramas, which were apparently present in Boston, but not in subsequent installations. But its main argument is curatorial--it's now considered inappropriate to place such interpretive structures directly on the site itself. The contemporary building thus thwarts their attempt to restore the battlefield to its pastoral, pre-1863 condition.

The first argument is undoubtedly true, but it doesn't preclude the NPS from adapting the building to some kind of other, lower-impact use. The second argument is true, too, and I'd guess that they feel they're getting the most out of their Cyclorama Experience now. Plus they now get to charge $10.50 for a ticket.

It's the third argument that turned out to be so confounding and complicated, because the battlefield is literally jammed with markers and structures, not just monuments and memorials, that have been put there by successive generations as part of the remembering and memorializing process. The Cyclorama and its building are among the most important chapters in the post-war history of Gettysburg, and the Park Service's plan to destroy the building would be highly questionable even if it hadn't been designed by one of the country's most well-known modernist architects.

Just about a month ago, a federal judge found that the Park Service had failed to study or consider the impact of demolishing Neutra's building, which they had lobbied to keep off the National Register of Historic Places.

I think I'll be breaking this up over several posts.

Next: 'The largest collection of outdoor sculpture in the world'

So I was watching Marie Lorenz' video, Capsized, on WNYC's Culture Blog, like I was told to do.

And not just because she had co-curated Invisible Graffiti Magnet Show inside those Richard Serra torqued spiral segments stored along the Bronx waterfront, I clicked through to see photos from Lorenz' less harrowing journeys down the Tiber in her handmade boat.

Including Tiber River III, where she and a colleague from the American Academy look into the Protestant cemetery at Keats' grave.

Which contains the epitaph that ends, "Here lies One Whose Name was writ in Water," which prompts Lorenz to wonder what it means.

"I'm not really sure." said Margaret. "Something about spirituality maybe, or the eternal nature of art. Its just good writing." She said.
Well, the last one out of three, sure, but. So I looked it up.

And the full inscription overexplains it a bit:

This Grave
contains all that was Mortal,
of a
YOUNG ENGLISH POET,
Who,
on his Death Bed,
in the Bitterness of his Heart,
at the Malicious Power of his Enemies,
Desired
these Words to be engraven on his Tomb Stone:
"Here lies One
Whose Name was writ in Water."
th
Feb 24 1821
Which makes wonder if Keats was murdered by his editor.

No, The Phrases Finder entry from 2003 tells me that Keats, 25, whose tuberculosis was not, in fact, getting better on his winter trip to Italy, and whose pursuit of true love was thwarted by his poverty, composed the last bit, at least, as a reference to a line from a Jacobean tragicomedy called "Philaster, or Love Lies-Ableeding,": "All your better deeds/ Shall be in water writ."

Which is spiritual in an "All we are is dust in the wind," sort of way, I guess.

But then the Google Ad next to this epitaph is from an outfit called westmemorials.com:

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She was everything to you
Mark her history
with something more
than a gray toaster-shaped
memorial.
Which, Bread of Life and all, maybe is something about spirituality, but really, it's just good writing.

November 30, 2009

On Remembering Ross Laycock

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I've thought about similar situations before, so when I saw the mention in the NY Times article about all the dela Cruz's Felix Gonzalez-Torreses I realized I was surprised at how infrequently I hear or see Felix's partner mentioned by his full name. Turns out yesterday was the first time the Times has called him Ross Laycock, not just Ross, in the nearly twenty years since he died of AIDS-related illness.

This, despite Ross's integral, intimate role in so much of Gonzalez-Torres's work. Despite? Or because of? It's partly the nature of Felix's work, but Ross is most widely encountered [by people who didn't meet him during his life, obviously] as an abstraction, a figure, a reflection, an absence, even, in the art work itself.

Remembering that there was far more to Ross than Felix's artistic gestures, no matter how poignant, could convey, I Googled around a bit, and found my way to Nick Dobbing, who had been thinking very similar things for far more personal reasons.

Dobbing knew Laycock before Ross was famous, and posted a Christmas snapshot of him:

One can find pictures of Felix online easily enough, but (to my knowledge) none of Ross. I have often wondered, when people read about Ross, who is remembered mainly for being Felix's lover, who do they think he was?

So I scanned this from an old snapshot and put it up, as a memorial.

It's one of my most popular photographs, often revealed to others through Google searches, so I wonder if others are looking for a photograph of Ross.

Felix used several photos of Laycock in his works. Untitled (Ross and Harry) is a 1991 puzzle edition with the same dog:

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Recent Photos | Ross Laycock [wovenland.ca via flickr]

September 11, 2009

Share Your Bed

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I've steered way clear of architect's Michael Jackson Monument Competition because--hello, in what universe does that decision actually require any explanation? Because.

Anyway, after seeing the winners, I just have to raise a single, ungloved--and as yet unmittened, hold that thought--hand in apology and salute. They're kind of hilariously fantastic. Kottke is all tight between the winner [a nice copyright play] and second place [the perpetual desert disco dance floor powered by a gold-plated windmill].

Me, I find the third place entry, by an architecture student named James at the University of Utah, to be borderline brilliant. Its title, "Share Your Bed," comes from testimony Jackson gave during his trial for child molestation: "Why can't you share your bed? The most loving thing to do is to share your bed with someone. It's very charming. It's very sweet. It's what the whole world should do."

The jurors liked the "almost cheeky minimalism" and transformation of "an ordinary domestic object," apparently forgetting that these are both now standard-issue for memorials [c.f Oklahoma City bombing=chairs, Pentagon = benches]. For his part, James cites the "dialectic manner Michael lived life by," where "Innocence clashes with social ideals." I'd rank not molesting children a bit higher than an "ideal," but he's right that the bed is a potent site and symbol of personal/political, private/public paradox.

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Beginning in April and running through the end of 1969, Yoko Ono and John Lennon conducted bed-ins as peace protests in hotels around the world. First was their honeymoon bed in Amsterdam, where the press converged, expecting to see the couple have sex. Instead, they were talking about peace all day. In bed. "Give Peace A Chance" was recorded in bed at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal that June.

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And of course, there's Felix Gonzalez-Torres' classic billboards showing a couple's--his and his partner Ross's--unmade bed, which were installed across New York City in 1991. Either way, not artists or works I'd have ever thought to associate with Michael Jackson.

Whoops, I almost forgot. Huge shoutouts to etoile's King of Pop In Orbit, the plan to launch Jackson's shiny, gold coffin into space, which I have to love for obvious shiny-objects-in-space reasons--and to CUP's The Michael Jackson Mitten Jamboree, for which the whole world knits themselves a pair of MJ mittens. Again, explanation is neither needed or possible.

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Bwahaha, if ever there were an architect whose work looked like it was all churned out of an idea factory from weary bins full of identical parts, it's Daniel Libeskind. And sure enough, just in time for the prefab business to be declared dead, the NY Times reports that Libeskind has unveiled a "limited artistic edition" 5,500-sf prefab villa, which can be yours--installed, in Europe--for just EUR2-3 million apiece.

Mr. Libeskind says he was involved in every aspect of the design, from the door handles to the kitchen layout to the placement of a barbecue area.

...

"We never really wanted it to be a prefab," Mr. [Michael] Merz [spokesman for the Berlin company distributing the villa] said. "We want to position this as a piece of art."

Buyers will also be promised regional exclusivity, ensuring that they are the only ones in their neighborhoods with the design.

And don't forget, everything's symbolic! There are no renderings of The Barbecue Of Community, but here's a picture of the Sectional Sofa of Solace, criss-crossed by the Zig-Zags of Enlightenment.

The size, too, is important, 5,500 equaling both the number of passengers on the ship little Danny sailed into New York Harbor on as a boy, and also the drop in the Dow since the project began.

Libeskind Designs a Prefab Home [nyt via curbed]

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Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

comments? questions? tips? pitches? email
greg [at] greg [dot ] org

find me on twitter: @gregorg

about this archive

Category: memorials

recent projects, &c.


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Social Medium:
artists writing, 2000-2015
Paper Monument, Oct. 2016
ed. by Jennifer Liese
buy, $28

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Madoff Provenance Project in
'Tell Me What I Mean' at
To__Bridges__, The Bronx
11 Sept - Oct 23 2016
show | beginnings

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Chop Shop
at SPRING/BREAK Art Show
curated by Magda Sawon
1-7 March 2016

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eBay Test Listings
Armory – ABMB 2015
about | proposte monocrome, rose

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It Narratives, incl.
Shanzhai Gursky & Destroyed Richter
Franklin Street Works, Stamford
Sept 5 - Nov 9, 2014
about | link

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TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -
about

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Standard Operating Procedure
about | buy now, 284pp, $15.99

CZRPYR2: The Illustrated Appendix
Canal Zone Richard Prince
YES RASTA 2:The Appeals Court
Decision, plus the Court's
Complete Illustrated Appendix (2013)
about | buy now, 142pp, $12.99

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"Exhibition Space" @ apexart, NYC
Mar 20 - May 8, 2013
about, brochure | installation shots


HELP/LESS Curated by Chris Habib
Printed Matter, NYC
Summer 2012
panel &c.


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Destroyed Richter Paintings, 2012-
background | making of
"Richteriana," Postmasters Gallery, NYC

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Canal Zone Richard
Prince YES RASTA:
Selected Court Documents
from Cariou v. Prince (2011)
about | buy now, 376pp, $17.99

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