The class has viewed several examples of memorials, including Krystof Wodiczko’s
Eternal Flame, Bunker Hill, Hiroshima and Maya Lin’s Vietnam Memorial, Civil Rights Memorial.
Born in 1959 in Athens, Ohio, Maya Lin catapulted into the public eye when, as a senior at
Yale University, she submitted the winning design to a national competition for the Vietnam
Veterans Memorial to be built in Washington, D.C. Writing about the memorial, a black granite
wedge that emerges from and disappears into the ground, she says it “does not force or dictate
how you should think. In that sense it’s very Eastern. . .. It reflects me and my parents.” Her father was the Dean of Fine Arts at Ohio University, and her mother, Julia Chang Lin, is a professor of literature at Ohio University. “As the child of immigrants you have that sense of ‘Where are you? Where’s home?’” notes Lin, “and of trying to make a home.” Trained as an artist and architect, Lin’s
sculptures, parks, monuments and architectural projects are linked by a common ideal of making a place for individuals within the landscape.
Krzysztof Wodiczko, artist, professor and director of art, design and the public domain at Harvard Graduate School of Design is renowned for his large-scale slide and video projections on architectural facades and monuments around the world. He uses images and voices of the homeless, immigrants, survivors of domestic violence, war veterans and other marginalized people in his work. His interrogative design practice, begun in Poland and continued at MIT, creates nomadic instruments for homeless and immigrant survival, communication, empowerment, and healing. Wodiczko’s socially engaged art practice entails forging trusting relationships with veterans, and giving voice to the voiceless so that they can speak about the unspeakable.
Wodiczko’s artistic practice focuses on those people who live in their monuments shadow, who are monuments to their own memories. Our monuments to historical events and heroes are metaphors or momento mori (from Latin \’remember that you will die\’). Wodiczko says, “We must create a site of rupture between the monument as symbol or sign of authority and the reality of the invisible public who have suffered unspeakable acts – those who have Hannah Arendt’s ‘right to have rights.’.”
Maya Lin said that the Memorial was meant to help people confront their pain. What kinds of changes occur when emotional wounds begin to heal?
DISCUSS AND COMPARE two of Wodiczko’s projects to Maya Lin’s Vietnam Memorial and the Civil Rights Memorial.