#Culturedesk: Landscaping the Soul

Art is eternal, for it reveals the inner landscape, which is the soul of man.” ~Martha Graham

For some things, the inner landscape, the soul as Ms. Graham says, is irrevocably connected to the outer landscape.  Stephen Petronio explored movement, architecture & loss in his work Architecture of Loss.  Surprising things come back to you from relationships and past events that can be bittersweet.  Navigating these memories is a journey; and for survivors of violent crimes, the site of the trauma is especially challenging.  Quite often, the site is a place that is part of everyday life – you’ll drive past it everyday, walk through it, or maybe even live there.  How do you rebuild what threatened to totally destroy you?

Virginia Tech Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention
Virginia Tech Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention

In these places of sorrow and pain, a creative process frequently emerges in the evolution of a space.  New meaning must be designated that acknowledges the past but carries forward into a hopeful future.  Thomas de Monchaux investigates this task (excerpted below, full article here):

Architecture has a special relationship to memory. And to disaster. The memory palace, that celebrated mnemonic device wherein Roman orators remembered passages from speeches by visualizing themselves walking through corresponding passageways in imaginary buildings, has its legendary origin in the story of a sole survivor retracing his steps through a recollected dinner party, in order to recover the bodies of friends buried by a catastrophic roof collapse.”

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