Sanderson, L., 2018.
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Palimpsest is an examination of how the past can be negotiated though the reuse of buildings and structures which have, at some point, hosted a difficult history. By examining the relationship between the past use of a building and its new counterparts, we can begin to outline how the past can be redefined within the shell of an existing structure, uncovering the architectural strategies of reuse as an alternative to demolition and the necessary decisions to be made when such a building is reused.
"When we say that we think of a building as a permanent thing, that is not to say it must stand intact forever or that it cannot be changed."
"Seamus Heaney has described one function of memory as a kind of disassembly and remaking of the past in which parts of our history are dismembered in order to be remembered in a way which is useful to our present."
Palimpsest follows on from a research project entitled 'Sinister Dialogues' which began in September 2014 with an Accelerator Funded project which included a symposium and the collection of a 'Book of Transcripts' with a series of international collaborators. The symposium, chaired by Laura Sanderson, included talks from Irish architect Sheila O'Donnell who worked on the Good Shepherd Laundry and Letterfrack Furniture College, German architect HG Merz who transformed the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp in Berlin, architecture academic Margahrita Vanore from Venice School of Architecture who writes about Industrial Ruins, interior design academic Terry Meade who writes about violence and domestic space in Palestine, artist Abigail Reynolds who created a series of artworks for the Topophobia Exhibition in Liverpool and architecture academic Sally Stone who writes extensively on building reuse.
The success of the symposium has been the driving force behind the exhibition and with the momentum of the work undertaken to date, a number of new contributors have emerged who have begun to shape the exhibition. These include English architect Christopher Watson who won the 2013 RIBA Stirling Prize for work on Astley Castle, sculptor Nazgol Ansarinia who dissects, interrogates and recasts everyday objects and events to draw out their relationships to the contemporary Iranian experience, artist Tom Dale whose 2012 photographic series Vision Machines explored communist housing in Poland, installation artist Adrien Tirtiaux who creates 1:1 interactive installations in live sites, film artist Larissa Sansour who combines live motion and CGI to create films which explore political dialogue and Tai Shani who uses performance, film, photography and installation to reinterpret experimental narrative texts.
Palimpsest is an exhibition which looks to bring together artists and architects from internationally acclaimed backgrounds to produce works in the gallery setting and within the city of Manchester. Beginning with Rodolfo Machado's theory of 'Old Buildings as Palimpsest' the work will assess to what extent architecture has the ability to accommodate and interpret these histories.