An ARCHITECTURE OF ABSENCE -Memory Reframed

pg 27 – The architectural designs of the three museums evoke particular ideas of the sacred that are bound to each culture’s dominant ideology of Holocaust remembrance and memorialization.

pg 29 – Architecture Critic Michaela Giebelhausen :” the architecture is the museum: it is precisely the architectural configuration that gives the museum meaning. The architecture determines the viewing conditions both conceptually and physically. It not only frames the exhibits but also shapes our visitor experience”.

pg 29 – The museums architecture gives form to this absence [negative sacred] by means of a series of voids that run through the heart of the design. Yah Vashems architecture, in contast, evokes the sacred through redemption and catastrophe … formalised …. through a series of descending and ascending planes.

pg 30 – In his book The architecture of the city, Aldo Rossi describes the city as “the collective memory of its people, and like memory it is associated with objects and places. The city is the locus of collective memory.” – pg 130

Berlin as Ruined Topography 

pg 31- James E young “Indeed, it is not the building itself that constitutes his architecture but the spaces inside the building, the voids and absence embodied by empty spaces … it is the void ‘between the lines’ that Libeskind seeks to capture here, a void so real, so palpable, and so elemental to Jewish history in Berlin as to be its focal point after the holocaust – a negative of gravity around which jewish memory now assembles. – p.165

pg 33 – As Libeskind explains, “its not just that the buildings fits into its context and is just a passive, inert bit of matter. A building also has a responsibility to transform the context , give it back something more. Not just taking from its surroundings, but also contributing. Enlivening, transforming.”- Libeskind “gabion” pg 4

pg 35 – One example of this inside-outside interaction is the possibility of occasional views from the interior of the museum itself out to other parts and spaces of the museum complex, including the Kollegienhaus and the surrounding urban space. These moments of liberated vision .. allow the visitor to experience the Jewish Museum as an extension not only of the Kollegienhaus but also of the city

pg 36- Director of the Jewish Museum W. Micahel Blumenthal describes the museum as a “house of both melancholic introspection and joyful encounter.”

pg 37 – The year in which the Berlin senate held a competition to find the architect who would design the new jewish museum was 1988 – 1 year before the fall of the Berlin wall and two years before the formal reunification of the city and country. What began as a west berlin project thus turned into an opportunity to make a powerful statement about newly reunited Germany’s attitude toward the past.

pg 39 – The purpose of the new Jewish Museum is therefore twofold: first, to educate Germans about the role that jews once played in German life, and second, to immunize todays germans against future intolerance toward cultural, ethnic, and religious difference. [Vergangenheitsbewältigung]

pg 41 – [talking about the the building next to the Kollegienhaus] The libeskind building itslef already “breaks with traditional museum architecture, which generally seeks to consolidate the cultural heritage of a given culture [ Dimendberg, “republic of voids” p 956.]  Through the juxtaposition of monumentalizing baroque architecture and Libeskind’s fragmented, unpredictable architecture, a critique emerges of the traditional, modernist museum project – that of the museum as a repository of stable knowledge and archive of the past.

pg 43 – Libeskind building [unlike traditional museums] cultivates instability and unpredictability through its jagged, fragmented windows bands and shattered facade

pg 47 – The museum is thus built quite literally around a structural absence – a negative sacred. Liveskins zig zag echoes moses call for the missing word in that it attempts to give presence an an absence … ” the new extension is conceived as an emblem where in the invisible , the void, has made itself apparent as such. Void/ invisible : these structural features have gathered in the space of the city and laid bare in an architecture where the unnamed remains in the name that keeps still”[libeskind “between the lines” pg 48]

pg 49 – As it replicates [Walter] Benjamin’s Abrupt transitions in sharp angles, dramatic thresholds, and foreboding dead ends, Libeskind’s construction is more closely derived from literature than architectural designs generally are” .. If there is a logic to one-way street, then perhaps it is a logic that each reader must individually discover – and this is a realization that applies to the jewish museum as well.

pg 51 – In the Jewish Museum Berlin, the element of the unpredictable emerges in the form of the visitors who respond to the architecture and participate in memory in idiosyncratic ways. Ambiguous spaces that are open to interpretation, such as Holocaust Tower, articulate questions and conflicts rather than solutions; they encourage visitors to imaginatively engage with the architecture. A definitive meaning is withheld in the sense that these spaces do not dictate an answer to the problem of remembrance but rather return the burden of memory to the visitors

The Negative Sacred and the Void 

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pg 52 – [quote from Libeskind, Jewish Museum Berlin, 30 – and Libeskin , Space of Encounter , pg 27] – “this is what i mean by the ‘voided void’ This bespeaks the nothingness of the nothing” … ” refer to that which can never be exhibited in this  museum, no matter how many objects are brought to it and stories told in it.”

pg 52 – The jewish museum may be viewed as the architectural expression of two philosophical problems : how to make visible that which been made invisible and how to recall that which has been exiled and destroyed.

pg 56 -Anthony Vidler reads Libeskind’s building through a philosophical lens and argues that the moments of absence and voids, including voids of memory, the past and the still-missing jewish community, are what hold “the visitors in spatio-psychological suspense,” and furthermore evoke the “Closest experience to “religious experience of architecture can be ”  [crypto-religious] – Vidler building in empty space pg 222

 

 

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