David Gissen’s Reconstruction of the Mound of Vendôme

David Gissen, teacher at CCA, author of Subnature and editor of HTC Experiments, proposed a project of radical reconstruction, a pragmatic statement “drawn from the idea of radical history, the history of politically radical social movements“.

From the descriptive text (read below)
“The term radical reconstruction draws from the idea of radical history — generally, the history of politically radical social movements. A radical reconstruction relates to this tradition but further suggests the reawakening of radical historical thought through acts of architectural or urban reconstruction.”

I’m personally doubtful about the possible outcome of such a project: in fact rather than suggesting the reawakening of radical historical thought, I guess it would end up facilitating the fetishization of radicals spontaneous manifestations.

The following texts are the description of the project and a Petition.

The Mound of Vendome
David Gissen

The Mound of Vendôme (2012) is a project exploring a radical reconstruction of a heap of dirt built by the Commune de Paris in 1871 in front of the Vendôme Column.

Before they toppled the column – a hated symbol of imperialism -, the Communards built the mound to cushion the street and surrounding buildings from the demolition’s impact. Following the suppression of the Commune, the Vendôme Column was rebuilt in 1873. We hope the mound will be rebuilt in 2013. The project to reconstruct the mound consists of an image of a physical proposal (shown at left) and a petition to the Department of Heritage and Architecture for the City of Paris (included below). The petition further explains the purpose of the mound and the reasons why the Commune destroyed the column.

The term radical reconstruction draws from the idea of radical history — generally, the history of politically radical social movements. A radical reconstruction relates to this tradition but further suggests the reawakening of radical historical thought through acts of architectural or urban reconstruction.

The Mound of Vendôme project also positions radical reconstruction more specifically within traditions of 1970s land-art and mail-art. The contemporary collage image was made along with the petition, which explains the project more fully and its ambitions. The historical images that follow the collage image provide more contextual background on the situation of the Vendome Column, the mound, and the Paris Commune.

PETITION

DATE: February 18, 2012
TO: Mr. Jacques Monthioux,
Director of Heritage and Architecture, City of Paris
FROM: David Gissen, Associate Professor, CCA
RE: Rebuild the Mound of Vendôme

In May of 1871, members of the Commune de Paris voted to destroy the Vendôme Column – a towering symbol of Napoleonic military might and triumph. In preparation for the demolition, the Communards built a mound of hay, sand, and urban detritus along the ground, directly in front of the column. The mound protected the windows and walls of the neighboring buildings from vibrations as the column was toppled and pulled to the ground.

Following the column’s reconstruction in 1873, various groups have called for the Vendôme Column to be destroyed again. But instead of destroying this rebuilt monument once more, we ask that another reconstruction join the reconstructed column: We, the undersigned, ask that the Mound of Vendôme be rebuilt in the plaza to commemorate the historical and radical events of 1871. The mound is a symbol of revolution and the column’s destruction, but it is also a symbol of the Communard’s interest in urban care, preservation, and the future of their city. It should be built again.

Already blogged on Socks:
LANDSCAPE FUTURES. INSTRUMENTS, DEVICES AND ARCHITECTURAL INVENTIONS

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