GSAPP Spring 2010: Memento Mori: A Diaspora of Memory
55,000 people die in New York City each year.
Spaces of the dead are constructed for the purpose of the living. The diaspora of memory program celebrates the diversity and pluralism of urbanity while confronting the American tendency to socially and spatially isolate death and cemeteries. Projects choreograph a delicate intersection of private memory and public space, enabling sanctuary and refuge, ritual and contemplation, while offering unscripted territory for spontaneous urban activity.
In an ever-more globalized and intertwined existence, the nostalgia of association to a physical homeland is fading. While vestiges of cultural traditions endure, the reduced likelihood of physical return amplifies a capacity for new forms of affiliation to emerge. Probing a territory bridging remembrance and possibility, students invented systems of transformation, imprinted by lives expired. Each design is a uniquely vertical, transitory, multicultural “cemetery,” a temporal repository for lives willingly and unwittingly dispersed across the globe.
Reverence for the deceased is manifest beyond traditional constructions of vane and inert monuments. Negotiating realms both sacred and profane, these proposals transcend representational imagery and symbolic narrative to produce terrains problematizing memory and celebrating life. Each student has prioritized what s/he believes remains or can be catalyzed at the end of one’s corporeal existence, unraveling possibilities as potent as their aggregate critical imagination.