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Sticky Heritage

Sticky Heritage

by Bjørnar Olsen

In The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, Karl Marx wrote that people make their own history, not as they please, “but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living”. The past, however, burdens more than the brains of the living. Through its accumulating material deposits it produces the very conditions under which we live and thus constantly inflicts on our most […]


The Order of Incompleteness

The Order of Incompleteness

By Dag T. Andersson

When the child follows the father working at the carpenter’s bench or the mother at her sewing machine, the German Jewish philosopher and literary critic Walter Benjamin writes, it is not the finished products that the child is primarily interested in, but the remnants or “waste material”. The child’s attention is directed towards the wood shavings and scraps of fabric and threads that fall onto the floor, where they create a world of their own; an “underworld” having […]


Entropic Chic and Proximate Ruins

Entropic Chic and Proximate Ruins

by Timothy Webmoor

In the Spring of 2003, several archaeologists from Stanford University entered a nearby building in the Silicon Valley. After 100 years of fairly continuous use the building had been abandoned by its former tenants and was slated for ‘demolition’. Inside, the two-story, open plan felt particularly hollow with wall partitions, pieces of large mechanical equipment and most softening decorations removed. It was as you might expect from an abandoned setting, reduced to what was unwanted, broken, insignificant or simply […]


Concrete Modernity

Concrete Modernity

by Gavin Lucas

Concrete is arguably a very modern substance – even if its usage is known from antiquity, the material has very modern connotations. Indeed, concrete architecture is perhaps synonymous with modern architecture. In the English language, reference to concrete as a substance only entered the vernacular in the nineteenth century. But concrete is not just a modern material – it is also anything which is solid, real. This other, philosophical meaning of the word goes back at least to the […]


Managing the Scars of Terror

Managing the Scars of Terror

by Elin Andreassen and Hein B. Bjerck

All photos: 8 April 2013, Elin Andreassen

We were in Oslo to attend to the final conference of KULVER, the Research Council program that has hosted the Ruin Memories project. We had arrived some days early, and Saturday evening, after a dinner at “Mother India”, we were wandering through the streets. Not all by chance we passed the Government Complex, where none of us had been since the 22 July right wing terror in 2011. A […]


Treasured Memories: Tales of buried belongings in wartime Estonia

Treasured Memories: Tales of buried belongings in wartime Estonia

by Mats Burström

The world in which we live is very much a material one, and when we are deprived of our possessions it is shaken to its foundations. This is an experience shared by many thousands of refugees that were forced to abandon their homes during the Second World War. Among them were around 70,000 Estonians who faced with the Red Army advance fled their homeland in the autumn of 1944. Most of them believed the Soviet occupation would be shortlived […]


Abandoned Childhood – Sarnes Internat

Abandoned Childhood - Sarnes Internat

by Bjørnar Olsen

If you travel the E69 highway to North Cape, one of Norway’s most famous tourist attractions, you will just a short hour before you reach your destination pass by the quiet and picturesque fishing hamlet of Sarnes. And despite the affluence of stunning views your eyes will almost certainly be drawn towards a large concrete building in a conspicuous state of decay. With the roof partly blown off, fading yellow paint, withering concrete, and curtains fluttering through gaping […]


Forgotten Battles. Ruins of the Spanish Civil War

Forgotten Battles. Ruins of the Spanish Civil War

by Alfredo González-Ruibal

Taste and smell

In 2011, we excavated the remains of a Republican military camp occupied during the winter of 1938 in Abánades (Guadalajara). Inside a stone shelter, we discovered a tiny bottle of woman’s perfume. In a nearby dump, a small can of anchovies. These are not the kind of objects that one usually finds in the frontline. I interpret the bottle of perfume as a souvenir from a wife or girlfriend. The anchovies might be a delicacy given to […]