Clockwise from top left:
On View january 31 – june 25, 2023
There are an intriguing number of architectural fragments in the collection of the Mead Art Museum. Representing parts and pieces of buildings from around the globe and across time–including 8th century Assyrian reliefs, a chip of a 1st century Roman frescos, 12th century capitals from French cathedrals, 20th century Yoruba and Dogon doors, and others–these objects have been separated from their original architectural surroundings and cultural moments. Each fragment suggests a lost history and an incomplete narrative; they are all haunted in some way.
Shown with paintings, photographs and prints of ruins, the exhibition proposes two entangled modes of inquiry: how can we address the romantic complexity, hopefulness and desire inspired by ruins, as well as the troubled history of architectural destruction and the legacies of heritage?
The aim of this exhibition is to bring together objects from antiquity to the 21st century that examine what it means to be in ruin, as both a material state and a theoretical concept, each with ethical and political features. In their incomplete state, ruins and fragments often inspire the viewer to contemplate the processes of ruination: the forces of nature, the intentional and collateral destruction of war, the passage of time, and the meanings of both individual and collective memories. As we reflect on these objects and try to imagine their original sites, or imagine different, even utopian, constructions, “Architectural Ghosts” also invites a critical look at Western institutional history, including art collecting, as part of a system of power and privilege.
Architectural Ghosts is organized by guest curator Karen Koehler, Chair of the Department of Art and the History of Art and Visiting Professor of Art History, Amherst College, and Professor of Architectural and Art History, Hampshire College.