Why Preserve? Questioning Central European Ethnicity, Appropriation, and Preserving Buildings; Or, Curating (In) Decay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Our culture of appreciation of old buildings is today pretty much a product of the heritage culture of the (broadly speaking) 18th century Central European (white, male, educated) upper class. Although we personally find it pleasant and historically informative to have historical buildings well preserved, we find the absence of critical questioning about the whole practice surprisingly absent, although critical practices are increasing in the heritage scene. The extensive costs of preserving old architecture raise eyebrows openly maybe only in the far/alt-right and technocratic circles, but looking at late reactions, there might be a change coming regarding our relationship to the built material past – as the late attacks on statues suggest. We offer a reading of the history of the phenomenon, which will make it easier to first see it as an ethnic/class structure – and then sketch out a new look on its metaphysics, from memory to identity to discourse. We then raise voices external to the world of heritage, that is still run by a privileged group, that often claims to speak for others – and which’s aims and practices are, of course, often also, at least still, accepted by others. We then proceed to think what kind of a role the curatorial – as a critical non-discipline without a strategy, that has been developing under globalization – could have in rethinking the idea of preserving.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNordic Journal of Aesthetics
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • Heritage
  • Architecture
  • Urban Aesthetics
  • Aesthetics
  • Curating
  • Art

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