Photography by Bonnie Fortune and Brett Bloom
Located in Berlin’s Jewish Museum, the Garden of Exile represents the experience of European Jewish exiles, driven from their home during World War II. Standing in between the rows of forty-nine concrete container columns is a claustrophobic, disorienting experience, where you are aware that logically, escape is very close but physically, you feel as if you are trapped forever.
Photograph by Bitter Bredt
“If you forget your memory, have a trauma and you repress it, it’s going to come to haunt you. It’s going to do something to you, something bad, something violent at some point. It’s important not to repress the trauma, it’s important to express it and sometimes the building is not something comforting,” he added. “Why should it be comforting? You know, we shouldn’t be comfortable in this world. I mean seeing what’s going around.”
Photograph by Michele Nastasi
“In projects that deal with brutality architecture is not just an affirmation of what we already know,” Libeskind told Dezeen after the talk. “A shift to something unknown, even repressed, initially perhaps might be feeling like something strange or discomforting but in the long run its incorporated as part of our space, as part of understanding of the world.”
“The way to do it is by incorporating memory and not as a footnote but as a turbulent ground on which our world is based,” he added. “And it is turbulent when you look at the news and all that’s happening, all the events in this world, we can’t just pretend that we’re living in another era.”
Libeskind applied this concept to the Ground Zero masterplan (2003), which he designed to mark the spot where the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Centres once stood. While an invitation to visit the base of the well created by the terrorist attack was rejected by the other architects in the running for the project, Libeskind said his acceptance led to his decision to memorialise the 9/11 bombings at ground level.
Concept Sketches for Ground Zero Master Plan by Studio Daniel Libeskind
He also cites meeting the fathers of a fireman and of a flight attendant who were killed in the attack as having a key role in the design process.
“They unrolled a piece of paper and they said
‘We have a map of all the body parts that were found.’
You don’t think about it, you don’t want to think about it.”
WTC Overview by Joe Woolhead
When I look at how my own practice relates to the research I’m undertaking that doesn’t directly correspond with the issue of ‘comfort women’ I always try and figure out how the voices of those the work is made about are represented or used, and here in Daniel Libeskind’s plans for Ground Zero it’s clear how they’re used; citing meetings where a map is presented, revealing the locations of bodies fallen from the towers. This kind of design process came from the trauma, deaths and terror of 9/11. How can I reveal the histories I’m exploring, of silenced women and of their trauma, through my work?