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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