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