Ambasciata della Memoria / Embassy of Memory
Tradition / Progress
embassy / sanctuary / living room
Chapels / pulpits / tombs / organs / altars / choirs: the interiors of religious architecture are populated by many smaller architectures. These spaces and forms within larger spaces and forms linked specific rituals with qualified actors. Inspired by these smaller constructions, our proposal links the public with a modern ritual that is nevertheless coloured by theological concepts.
In the history of diplomacy, embassies housed different ambassadors that were able to travel freely between contested spaces. An embassy, then, is a designated safe space within a larger space. Here, the Embassy of Memory consists of smaller objects that are able to travel together as an exhibition throughout the cultural circuit of Ancona and the Marche. The sensitive documentation of a natural disaster is safely housed within a miniature architecture. As an archive that documents the ‘Terre in movimento’, the Embassy brings focus to the artists who have documented the areas in the region hit by an earthquake in 2016, while highlighting the achievement of San Gregorio’s restoration.
Refrain / Concentrate
chiaroscuro / the diagonal
The Baroque movement is infamous for a certain visual dynamism. Whether it be in the complete integration of sculpture, architecture and painting characteristic of churches across the country or the false perspective of Trompe-l’œil painting, the dynamic qualities of the Baroque were integral to a Counter-Reformation aesthetic recruitment practice. Theatrical dynamics were deployed to increase membership. Two qualities of the Baroque in particular have influenced our proposal: chiaroscuro, and the diagonal.
The juxtaposition of light and dark characteristic of painting and architecture in the Baroque – known as chiaroscuro – begins to categorise the world into black/white, good/evil, and other dichotomies that leave the human constantly over and under-estimating their condition. The Embassy departs from these contrasts, holding the brightness of the Illuminated Church against a darkened gallery interior. This allows for the precise modulation of light for the artistic works as well as creating an unexpected, surreal and intimate experience inside an otherwise monumental space. We describe this nested condition as one of monumental intimacy.
The diagonal emerges as a refrain in baroque painting. Visual intensity is created by the movement of the eye outside the frame in contrast to the balanced compositions of the Renaissance. In plan, the Embassy telescopes outward from two entries suited for an individual. At either end, a large surface is used for group entry or projection.
The telescoping portals of the Embassy creates an opportunity for forced perspective from within. The artistic work is floating within these frames, illuminated from either side, above, or not at all when appropriate. In transverse section the proposal sets up sensitive conditions for the displaying of photography, in longitudinal section the project creates a dramatic circulation experience for visitors.
This smaller space within a space establishes a multi-scalar and intimate relationship between viewers and the work by providing an intermediary scale that is both easily constructed and disassembled while respecting the newly renovated church. The artworks are floating, the embassy itself appears to be floating.
Mass / Space
The spatial requirements of the artists’ work have informed the plan of the Embassy:
Barbieri depicts the collapsing of buildings once used to signify the permanences of the church. The work is held by a diagonal slice through the space.
De Petri sensitively documents the faces and places involved in the earthquake and reconstruction efforts. His work requires four large individual rooms. Here they are offset to allow visitors to move through the spaces and stories at a human scale.
Noordkamp uses film of the resident’s homes forced to leave, using the space of the home to shed light on the effects of the earthquake. The pairing of films happens in the final corner of the Embassy, images of the homes left are the last experience before visitors themselves leave our building.
Archive / Demonstration
Ensemble / Assemble
The Embassy consists of wooden portal frames that are easily assemble off site and brought into the church or assembled on site. The interior plywood panelling is painted black while individual photographs are illuminated by spot lighting. The exterior of the project is painted completely in white, dramatizing both the church and the photographs.
Church / Embassy
The Embassy of Memory records the representation of the 2016 earthquake by housing the artistic artifacts in a single space. In compliment and contrast to the renovated church, the Embassy highlights the over and under exposures of photography, and in turn, the over and under exaggeration of the human condition in the way we build; edifices that are inevitably reclaimed by nature.
We hope for the opportunity to work together with the team SOPRINTENDENZA ARCHEOLOGIA, BELLE ARTI E PAESAGGIO, and again with MAXXI, and the Associazione Demanio Marittimo KM 278.
Chijen Wang, Yujun Liu, Dika Terra Lim, Matthew Darmour-Paul