Fjord C omma n d a nt ’s H ou s e C a mp A re a Pa th from C a mp A re a to Fore st Fa l sta d Fore st
HI STO R I C AL
Most societies have their scars of history resulting from involvement in war and civil unrest or adherence to belief systems based on intolerance, racial discrimination or ethic hostilities. A range of places, sites and institutions represent the legacy of these painful periods. These sites bring shame upon us now for the cruelty and ultimate futility of the events occurred within them and the ideologies they represented [Logan, Reeves 2009]. They may also be troublesome because it threatens to break through into the present in the disruptive ways, opening up social divisions, perhaps by playing into imagined, even nightmarish, futures [Mcdonald 2010]. Increasingly, however, they are now being regarded as “heritage sites”, apparently far from the view of heritage that prevailed some times ago when that concept was almost entirely concerned with protecting the great and beautiful creation of the past: reflections of the creative genius of
M AT T E R S
humanity rather than the reverse – the destructive and cruel side of history. Sometimes site gradually change as memories of the past fade or are distorted; even sometimes, it's argued, sites should be actively changed where they merely aid the remembrance of the perpetrators of pain and shame rather than the victims. Sometimes whole sites may be missing from the public consciousness perhaps because the public in question does not want to remember the values associated with such places. As Elie Wiesel, Nobel Prize winner, said: “The executioner always win twice, the second time with the silence”. Some sites, instead, harbouring memories that serve to maintain a group's sense of connection with its roots in the past. Frequently such places have political functions, for propaganda for example. [Logan, Reeves 2009]
AC TUATI O N
Our passage and our stay leave, inevitably, traces on places. Working on the area of Falstad is equivalent to a reappropriation of a space with a heavy background, with the awareness of the past. Once we arrive in the forest we can't forget or remain indifferent. Reconstruction starts form us and spreads to all the people who will visit the forest or who will know the story. It's a place where multiple identity as commemorative spaces , guided tours , emotional spaces and wild not accessible places coexists. There are two areas in the Forest, a touristic place and an intimate place. The small metal gate is the boundarly line between them. The perception of the sounds emphasize this bipartition. The inner part of the Forest is the farthest from the street and external noises doesn’t arrive. In the Forest persists a religious silence and the sensation of sacred is marked also by the particular space. The verticality of the trees, indeed, calls to mind some ancient architecture. The soar of trees towards the sky is similar to the one of the columns in a temple. For these reasons the Forest appear as a sacred and peaceful place. The gravity of the events happened here is in a strong contrast with the appearance of the place. Something horrible is happened here and the Forest, in its being eternal, was the silent witness. But the forest has a multiple identity. The light that enters through the trees and the fading of the space delineated by the trees themselves helps to multiply the points of view. From one hand it's in an open process because the space and the identity of the Forest has been created by the stratification of time and memory, and as this process keep going; it's a place full of
transformations , due to anthropic events (cutting of trees ), spontaneous (uncontrolled growth of vegetation) or weathering. Memory and the layering of the events have built the landscape, on the other hand the forest belong to its past events but also to our time. It's as the time has been frozen and it is related to the memorial. The facts are, also, not yet “solved” due to the several unrevealed identities of the unknown victims and the uncertainty of the presence of the bodies inside the graves, the doubt is a strong component. For solve this situation the Forest needs an implication of the present, maintaining anyway its identity. For defrost the atemporality of the place we thought to create a participative exchange between the visitors and the place itself. The people should perceive the space not only has a place of commemoration and contemplation but has a place where they can identify themselves and interact. Here started our investigation inside the forest trying to go beyond the “memorial”, giving space to our perceptions. Our path started with the perception of spaces. In the Forest the first notable thing is the pulse upwards of trees. The verticality of trunks is a call to look to the sky towards daylight that at the ground level is not perceived well. Trunks are a path for the view. We played with some different points of view. In opposition to the verticality we tried to observe the Forest at the ground level, in a sort of macro framing. For multiply the points of view we did some experiments with a mirror and with some different shots.
With the first of our approach we decided to engage visitors in an emotional experience, changing the way they visit the forest. We tried to break the tradition of the memorial through the participation and involvement of the visitor. The goal of the first approach is create a dynamic process, open and interactive, involving different users. This approach is closely connected with the historical reality of what happened in the Forest and with the unidentified people who were killed there. With the obliteration of identity these people are suffering a denial of memory. Our project was to give a new identity to these unknown and unidentified persons and the visitors had to be the main actors in the process. Visitors should have metaphorically adopted the unidentified people, giving them stories and features, making them real. Fragments of life, portraits (faces, hands, details...), imaginary families, or biographies both drawn and written. In this way unknown people give life to other unknown people. All the obtained materials were gathered on some light structures in the Forest and left to atmospheric agents. They would have deteriorated following the natural course of time but it would have been integrated with other memories and other portraits. Nature would have taken part in the memory, creating a natural stratification. Visitors leave traces of themselves and contribute to create a collective memory. This project considered some secondary developments. The sketches and the stories could be collected for an exhibition or for some workshops in schools or competitions. The strength of this project was the direct involvement of the visitors and the possible rielaborations but it was closely connected with the historical facts.
APP ROAC H Our approach has evolved into a less pragmatic way. We have maintained the connection with the emotional space of the visitor and with his involvement but we have overlook the tangible link with historical events. Developing this project, we have adopted a sort of â€œarchaeologicalâ€? point of view. Our aim was, in fact, add a new layer to the forest for bring people to the Forest for a new reasons. This new layer consist in a re-use of the place, without forgetting his past. We had decided to propose an use for the community, overlapping contemporary stories on the old ones. The new vocation of the Forest had to maintain a slight but significative connection with the past. The most appropriate function, for us, was a place with a spread library. This brings visitors to re-appropriating the Forest and wondering why we chose that place and leads them towards a spontaneous consciousness raising.
The connection with the events happened there should be almost hidden: the number of the books could corresponds with the one of the people buried there, or the nationality of the books's writer could represent the prisioners one. Books should not be related to the events as the Falstad Center already functions has an archive. The strength of this project was the complete detachment from the concept of memorial and the addition of a new layer in the landscape. A good aspect is, also, the new way to experience the Forest, bringing visitors to reflect on why the particular location. But this approach could detach from the emotional aspects and the subtle connection with historical events may not be perceived.
APP ROAC H With the third approach, we have tried to deepen the emotional aspect and to stimulate the perceptions of visitors. To do this we have worked on our experience in the Forest and on the different sensations which has raised. Spending time in the forest has changed our awareness of it, it brought out in us the desire to share our investigation and experiences with visitors. We have supported the multiple identities of the forest interacting with it.
To do this we decided to work on the different ways of perceiving reality, for example working with the dilatation of the space through different tools as mirrors or screens, horizontally or vertically, to disorient the visitors or with the use of light to emphasize only some obliged point of view through the forest.
D E S C R I P TI O N
I DE A
TECH N I C A L
Our final idea combines the archaeological concept of "landscape archeology" with the emotional involvement of the visitor. We tried to superimpose a new layer to the historical dimension inserting lightweight structures ( reticular sheets of rope ) stretched between the trees a short distance from the ground, that can be used as seating or shelter inside the voids of the forest. Permeable elements to the passage of time and the growth of vegetation , which changing aspect, it appropriates the objects themselves in a spontaneous manner , losing almost their recognition and embedding them as shelters invisible.
W H Y
The operation as well as define a new way to "live", stop and look at the space of the forest, wants to emphasize the temporarity and the changing nature of events, the layering of use that leads to deepen awareness , involvement , integration with the nature and history of the place. Our intervention does not want to close the issues or answer the questions, but let the people who visit the forest do to turn the questions, both on historical events on the emotional and that in some way to reappropriate the way to manage emotions. Ours is a way to suggest the direction and let everyone responds differently, asking questions without giving answers as guided learning but not manifest. The position of the new layer doesnâ€™t follow the same position of the burials , rather than a random order for not wanting to coincide with the layers of past events .
D E TA I L S
Structurally composed of rope nets mesh wide enough , the right size to support the weight of a person, stretched between trees with reinforcements on the ends . The sheets can be stretched horizontally, slightly higher than the soil to be able to lie down or placed at a higher level , in order to be used as bunks or shelters.
G OAL The reference to the events of the past has given the close relationship that exists between the history of the forest, the layering of memory and the superimposition of a new use which reflects the same principles and is in dialogue with it. Elements of the length ephemeral , not permanent and subject to the passing of time. Time is the fourth dimension that takes shape in these mutations and re-appropriation of nature with respect to events. We tried to develop an immaginary landscape in a new layer to superimpose to the historical one. This involves a kind of use of space without intervening structurally. We work on the visitors and its perceptions, the real structural intervention will be inside users. The sensory experience is an expedient to stimulate the curiosity of visitors, in order to force them to open to the Forest and its history. We want to create an experience rather than an installation.
S C HE ME S
CO L L AG E + R E NDE R