Gaston Gordillo, The Afterlife of Places: Ruins and the Destruction of Space

From Progressive Geographies: Gaston Gordillo, The Afterlife of Places: Ruins and the Destruction of Space.

Sounds like a fascinating project and forthcoming book on ruins by Gaston Gordillo, raising lots of questions that are highly relevant to my own research on artistic responses to the Iraq war. It will be interesting to think more about the following argument in relation to the deployment of images of ruins and ruined objects within art practice:

“What, exactly, is a ruin? Can the material, historical, and affective ruptures congealed in the countless ruins strewn all over the world help us look at space differently? In this book, I argue that answering these questions requires, first, undoing the fetishism that dominates mainstream and elite views of ruins, which celebrate historic ruins as objects whose form should be revered while, at the same time, erasing the experience of the people living around them as well as much vaster and ongoing spatial destruction created by capitalist and state forces.”

In some of the cases I’ve been looking at, the question of erasure is central and also rather complex. I think it can usefully be explored in several different ways, in terms of artistic appropriation and intention, as well as practices of exhibition and reception. This is something I’ll be thinking more and writing about; looks like the book will be a great resource for this.

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One thought on “Gaston Gordillo, The Afterlife of Places: Ruins and the Destruction of Space

  1. I had a neighbor years ago who took it upon himself to visit every fatal street accident scene and trace a contorted body on the ground with chalk. It was a startling moment to come upon these “representations” around the city.

    What if the preserved trenches from WWI held photographs of the torn apart bodies of soldiers. What if that went on for mile after mile? What new significance would these “ruins” of the war take then? Battlefield and urban “ruins” somehow silence so much, render them as “points of imagination” rather then desperation and horror. I too look forward to reading his book.

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