From my win­dow I have been watch­ing a famil­iar urban drama: the demo­li­tion of a 19th cen­tury fac­tory, and the swift con­struc­tion of its replacement—a pre­fab lux­ury high-rise. The change is absolute, and the new build­ing seems deter­mined to oblit­er­ate any sense I have of the ear­lier one, despite my hav­ing lived with it for more than 25 years. This pow­er­ful expe­ri­ence of irrev­o­ca­ble obliv­ion recalls an excerpt from James Merrill’s 1962 poem “An Urban Convalescence”:

As usual in New York, every­thing is torn down
Before you have had time to care for it.
Head bowed, at the shrine of noise, let me try to recall
What build­ing stood here. Was there a build­ing at all?

In Urban Amne­sia I explore the theme as Mer­rill evokes it: how the cur­rent prac­tice of urban growth destroys any sense of his­tor­i­cal con­ti­nu­ity and per­sonal mem­ory tied to place.

A selec­tion from a larger series.

2009, foto-projections, cibachrome, 20″ x 24″.


Review: Il Man­i­festo: Intervista