The Fragile Monument: On Conservation and Modernity

Black Dog Publishing

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Thordis Arrhenius

Softcover | 19.05 x 1.91 x 25.4 cm | 176 pp

Black Dog Publishing | 2011 | 9781907317477

The Fragile Monument is a study of the discourse of conservation and its effect on the notion and role of the monument in contemporary western society. Through a revisionist account of the history of conservation, the book explores how the monument has been transformed from an object that originally communicated permanence to an object that is perceived as fragile and in need of protection. The argument put forward is that the expansion and popularisation of conservation is bound to a narrative of loss and danger that reveals a paradoxical relationship between destruction and preservation.

In a series of case-studies the book shows how spatial devices have been used to negotiate this paradox and how this use of space has contributed to the defining of the monument as an object of conservation. Throughout its history, conservation has been surrounded by a polemic dominated by concepts of authenticity, origin and authorship. By studying that debate in relation to the case-studies, The Fragile Monument adumbrates the implications these concepts carry with them, both for the discipline of conservation and for the discourse of architecture as a whole. Identifying and examining particular sites of conflicts where critical uncertainty, ambivalence, and heated debates have surrounded the object of restoration, The Fragile Monument contributes significantly to expanding and shifting architectural discourse into a direction of crucial relevance today.

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