Best Of The Web
“WHEN THE US HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM opened 25 years ago, it inaugurated a new understanding of what museums were supposed to do; since then it seems we are increasingly looking to museums to help process traumas and sort out complex social problems. David Adjaye’s celebrated National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the Memorial for Peace and Justice (the National Lynching Memorial) are only the most recent structures to do this. While secular, these ambitious projects are meant to serve as sacred repositories, as sites of pilgrimage and spiritual healing.
With the spectacular growth in museum construction over the past two decades, there’s been a parallel spike in the creation of architectural sites that memorialize the Holocaust. These projects are grand gestures to public memory, typically expensive and large in scale. They include the Bologna Shoah Memorial (completed in 2016), the Canadian National Holocaust Monument (inaugurated last year), and an Adjaye-designed London memorial, in the works. Many of these make use of deconstructivist architecture, with spatial instability as their calling card. Buildings appear to be in the process of blowing up or sliding into the ground; materials that typically convey solidity, like steel and stone, are made to float, buckle, and crack. These structures aggressively engage with bodily space—passing people through giant silos striated by beams of light or funneling them through narrow chutes—disorienting visitors with the aim of bringing out new emotions and memories. The development of these projects unfold as heavily-mediated spectacles, relying on high-profile competitions and ritualized groundbreakings to signal the creation of “important” architectural forms. It’s a matter of political and civic concern—at stake is how we mediate the past in the built environment, and the aesthetic vision we attach to memories of suffering.
Deconstructivist elements and an ostentatiousness of style, combined with government-funded, big-budget drives “to remember” are hallmarks of the new Shoahtecture. But as these projects become more ubiquitous, we have to ask ourselves: what are these architectural behemoths really for? Is it wise to entirely hand over the task of memorialization to some of the same forces—capital, industry, and the state—that helped give the Holocaust shape? And, as Nazis march again in the streets of the US and Europe, has centralizing memory in these grand repositories made it too easy to seal off, compartmentalize, ignore?”
JJ Editor's Picks
"In a bid to create new space for green industries and fossil-free energy production, greater Copenhagen wants to build an entirely new business and infrastructure district on the city’s southwestern edge."
Donald Trump ran for president saying that he would be a shrewd businessman with a propensity for making deals. Why, then, are we in the longest government shutdown on record?
"There isn’t an Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the way that many outsiders seem to think... In the Israeli view, no peacemaker can bring the two sides together because there aren’t just two sides. There are many, many sides."
"I've always wondered what fans see in her. After debating with a friend about her “merits” for over half a decade now, I thought I had found the one thing that could probably change my opinion of the pop star: the Reputation tour documentary..."
"Even if the economy is on a roll, many Americans aren’t feeling the benefit... In fact, when adjusted for cost of living increases, real wages actually declined 1.3% since the end of 2017, PayScale found."
"Cutting ties with Facebook would mean consciously cutting ties with my own community, and I can't bring myself to do it. When I asked my connections on Facebook why they were staying, their answers were very similar to mine..."
Fear of the news; fear of climate change, fear of touch screens... these New Yorker cartoons portray the modern phobias that are driving us crazy.
"Texts replaced authors as the privileged objects of scholarly knowledge, and the performance of critical operations on texts became essential to the scholar’s identity."
"When I speak to parents’ groups about kids who are addicted to Fortnite and other video games, I tell them that it is the parents’ job to limit, govern and guide their kids’ use of video games..."
"Startups like Hungry Harvest and Imperfect Produce say they're helping to reduce food waste in America. Critics say they're deceiving their customers and making the problem worse."
"Scholars are now interested in whether having a vocabulary item for a concept influences thought in domains far from language, such as visual perception."
"The much-documented anti-Semitism of the British Labor party leader is no accident... Jeremy Corbyn reminds us that anti-Semitism is not just an irrational hatred, harbored by madmen at the fringes of British society."