Monday, August 6, 2012

shadow of a building in Montreal

This shadow of a demolished mansard-roof townhouse clings to the side of a taller building in a vacant lot in Montreal. The back-to-back arrangement of rooms typical of Victorian-era townhouses is evident in the twin chimney shafts that pierce the house's broken floor plates. As the empty urban lot waits to be filled in, this shadowy imprint suspended in brick serves as a tenuous index of the site's history and reminds passerby of the house that once stood here.

This ghostly ruin, signifying at once both a void and a monolithic monument, calls to mind the concrete sculpture "House" by British artist Rachel Whiteread, documented by noted photographer John Davies in the image below:

In this work, Whiteread filled the interior of a London townhouse with concrete and then tore away the walls around it. The eery result serves as both a symbolic intervention in defiance of the demolition of a row of historic homes and as a palpable inverted record of what once stood on this site. Like its unintended counterpart in Montreal, it is ultimately a sort of architectural fingerprint. 

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