Minimalist Aesthetics and the Imagined and Inhabited Interiority of Peter Eisenman’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
Keywords:Public, Memorials, Interiority
Since the dedication of Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 1982, minimalist design strategies have transformed the way in which public memorials, particularly those that deal with problematic pasts, have been conceived, constructed, managed and understood. Contemporary approaches stress the affective potential of memorial space, where physical and emotional engagement is as significant as symbolic and material form. This embodied and affective focus to memory-making is ultimately an expression of interiority, the social construction of the interior through embodied experience.
This paper examines the imagined and inhabited interiority of Peter Eisenman’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in the context of the effectiveness of the communicative aspects of minimalist design strategies employed in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, as described in Jeffrey Karl Ochsner’s theory of ‘linking objects’. Intended meanings for the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe as a place of remembrance, it is argued, are negated ultimately by the lack of signification within its design, the absence of ‘linking objects’. In contrast to the imagined interiority of the memorial, the inhabited interiority of the memorial it is argued, is predominantly one of play and performance rather than one of reflection and understanding.
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