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Weak Monuments | The city of Thessaloniki Described through its Murders

October 21, 2009

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Our architect friend Aristide Antonas just shared with us this non-conventional project he recently launched in Thessaloniki.  Called Weak Monuments, it is about the city of Thessaloniki
described through its Murders: the exhibition was based on public murders, murders scenography and the city’s fabric as an archiving function.

Here is his own text about the project:

To start with, we imagine a certain accumulation of the archives describing murders, which occurred in Thessaloniki. Something resembling an abundant reservoir containing the relevant material. From this material, we would have to assemble a landscape. Supervising from a distance, and creating (from our observation of the material in the data reservoir) an internal landscape. It is a fragmented landscape, created primarily through a pastiche of secondary materials. Our effort is to create something simply from various selections and from rearranging these selections. To organize some sort of “framing”, which would detach part of this chaotic material and reconstitute it. Though it may not be possible to perform the exhaustive research, which would create such a terrifying reservoir, we can continue framing in various ways; collecting fragments of material through identical strategies, even though we might have only a portion of this imaginary non-existing archive. Here, the strategies that frame, organize, and limit the material are more important than the material since they already indicate in the direction of some sort of reading of the city. Faced with the plethora of material, but also faced with a part of it we would distinguish three architectural scenes of murder. The landscape we are organizing is constructed of three different stagings occurring simultaneously on three different stages, and presented together.

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The first scene is a chilling reference to the set-up of the murders. The architecture of the dimension is evident. It confronts murders as actions, which occurred in a certain location, unfolding in a public space. Thus assessed, the city appears to be setting the scene for the events. The premeditation of murder is a design, as is the unforeseen construction of a murder scene taking place without premeditation; it takes place somewhere, and is characterized by the specific features of the landscape where it unfolds. The first scene: a series of diagrams, which variously render the scenic action of selected facts.

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scene of Murder, Thessaloniki 2009

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The second architectural scene is manufactured by the building and material mechanism that documents the murder in a pre-arranged, ready, bureaucratic way. The second scene insists on the building mechanism, which receives the murder, as if it had an autonomous nature, distinct for the city. Police stations divided into precincts, courts symbolizing the nullification of, and redress for moments when murder breaks loose, morgues revealing the truth of everything that appeared hidden. Contemporary cities may be interpreted as mechanisms for constraining murder in a stable frame of reference. The second scene: a composed yet diffuse “city of murder”, concealed in the interior of every great city, made to receive criminal events.

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The third architectural murder scene is made of the roles undertaken in each separate scene; as the murder itself progresses, and during the operation of its receiving mechanisms as well; during its documentation and archiving. There are professions in murder: morgue attendant, coroner, the weapons vendor, criminologist, and there are professions that become involved with murder: journalist, police officer, judge, legislator, historian, undertaker, grave builder, monument sculptor, and others who, in a more direct or indirect way, work so the city may receive murder. Scene three: roles people perform around murder.

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Morgue, plan.

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The morgue’s freezer.

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Funeral services room, plan.

Here is a video showing the murder infrastructure from the weak monuments show:

It is amazing the travel we can have around a city through its murders, in a way that we should have never imagine! Thanks @antonas for sharing this project!

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