GROPIUS’ OFF-CUTS

GROPIUS’ OFF-CUTS

in the exhibition ‘A Modernity Which Forgets’ Festival of Ideas, Cambridge 2015, and outcome of the project Gropius’ Impington.

Most of the research for the exhibition focused on the historical moment of the Chivers’ family farm and jam business funding the Gropius’ project by donating the land and paying for part of its design by the Bauhaus Architect, with the condition that the education programme would be open to its workers. In particular by looking for more information about who they might have been, it became apparent how such an important business in the interwar period attracted people from around the region, country as well as overseas. In a journal published by the Chivers’ business a series of anecdots form a picture of a community created around the business, the identity of each person defined by their position within it. The war was also inevitably cause of growth for the local population as evacuees from London and Europe found their home in Impington, some 7000 children were sent to leave London a portion of whom came to find a new home in the coutryside, and study in Impington. But a lot of the information about their identities is missing, from the historical archives, like mnemonic lacunae.

During the Cambridge Festival of Ideas (2015) the program Cologni devised Gropius’ Impington, modernism and power, art and the rural opens up a debate on the importance of the connection between people and places, and the construction of memory, cultural (monuments) and communicative memory (live interaction, Assman). According to Paul Connerton (2009) this connection may be institutionalised, as in the case of the memorial monuments, such as architecture, but it is in often apparently anonymous places, experienced through the individual’s and everyday’s bodily actions that the individual’s memory’s grid is founded. Through the memories that these places evoke the individual can domesticate the surrounding world. However, Modernity has imposed a frantic pace to the transformation of human environments. The result is that memorials and architecture last, but the common, anonymous places that are the individual’s loci of memory (Connerton 2009) are often altered beyond recognition. In particular, with the continuous process of urbanisation of the countryside, an abstract ideal of the rural is often nurtured by our memories of how familiar places used to be.

‘The paradox of a culture which manifests so many symptoms of hypermnesia and which yet at the same time is post-mnemonic is a paradox that is resolvable once we see the causal relationship between these two features. Our world is hypermnesic in many of its cultural manifestations, and post-mnenonic in the structures of the political economy. The cultural symptoms of hypermnesia are caused by a political-economic system which systemically generates a post-mnemonic culture – a Modernity which forgets.’

Gropius’ Offcuts, the sculptures as architecture off-cuts of unused spaces between the bay windows at the front of the Gropius building, occupy the space of a crouched body, and are moved around the site, as from her drawings.

Cologni’s response is symbolically in memory of all people whose nomadic way of living inevitably shows paradoxes like cherishing their memories, while also erasing part of them to make room for new ones in the encounter of a new place.

more here

Acknowledgements. This residency and project is being supported by: Impington Village College, The East Anglian Film Archive, Cambridge Central Library Special Collections, Chivers’ Pensioners Association Histon and Impington Viallage Association, CIAN University of Cambridge, Cambridge Festival of Ideas, funded through the Arts Council of England Grants for the Arts scheme.