In the Absence of Visible Walls

In an exploration of urban politics and city spaces, ‘In the Absence of Visible Walls’ is a project that discusses urban regeneration through the lens of ‘the wall’.

The wall is visceral and fundamental element of architecture, a 3D representation of the line. It demarcates, it is a boundary, it is architecture making a mark, a point of transition, a division. The wall creates space, it creates community, it is a device of control and power. We therefore position the wall as an architectural device that can be used to explore how we engage in notions of memory, loss, homes, demolition and boundaries.

The project aims to bring together the historical narratives of erasure, destruction and gentrification of ‘Robin Hood Gardens’, a housing estate in East London and the space of ‘Manufaktura’ and the boundaries of Litzmannstadt Ghetto in the city of Lodz in Poland (a ghetto that was created by the Germans during the Second World War in the Old Town and Baluty districts of Lodz) through the notion of ‘the wall’. The project fuses a dialogue between cultural geography and creative writing, text, film and image in an attempt to highlight the stories of sites, areas/spaces that have undergone and/or are currently undergoing change. In as much as this project explores the effects of gentrification (Robin Hood Gardens and Manufaktura), it also opens up new narratives and perspectives on how spaces and buildings are haunted by the past and the interplay between presence and absence, memory and forgetting.

Furthermore, ‘In the Absence of Visible Walls’ looks at the boundaries of the Litzmannstadt Ghetto and explores the visibility and invisibility of history. We ask how urban spaces speak and remember the trauma of a historical past? How the absence of past homes is still present? How buildings and architecture can haunt another?

We will record our personal experiences of these spaces with the hope to create an engaging response, highlighting the hauntological sensibilities of building, demolition, memory and the (in)visible boundaries that still exist in our geographical landscape.

Agnieszka Studzinska Poetry