246 Ruin by Design? the Aesthetics of Creativity in European Material Cultures

Thursday, June 27, 2013: 2:00 PM-3:45 PM
D1.18B (Oudemanhuispoort)
This session is concerned with the social, political, and temporal aspects of ruin as a process and of ruins as material objects. Ruins in this view are not merely material remains of a teleological end-point, but reconfigured as a stage in dynamic and often recursive cycles of life—and even multifarious histories. While physical ruins are commonly perceived as the remains of what once was, of fallen greatness and signs of time’s rough passage, this session addresses ruin instead as something potentially incorporated into acts of production and creation, embedded into both acts of creation and transformative processes of use. In this view, ruin is both a material entity and an ongoing process best understood through explorations of intention, aesthetics, design, and political and social hierarchies. With information gleaned from ethnographic fieldwork and archival research, this panel uses the concept of ruin(s) to uproot common, and often implicitly embedded, notions of linear histories in order to, instead, address cultural transformations in Europe as part and parcel of concurrently changing material, social, and political phenomena.  Ruin is not just the dark aftermath of destruction, but perhaps, we suspect, the seed of something vibrantly new. Drawing from case studies in Belgium, Bulgaria, the Netherlands, and Turkey, presenters in this panel take up themes of ruin and regeneration through such issues as the social possibilities afforded by acts of environmental destruction, the emotional possibilities inspired by waste, the cultural ruptures that accompany progressive integration policies, and the productive aesthetics of political instability.
Melissa L. Caldwell
Melissa L. Caldwell
What goes up must come down, what gets tossed will be found
Elana Resnick, University of Michigan
Charles Van den Borren’s Elastic Belgium: Nostalgia for a Distant Musical Past
Catherine Hughes, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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