A Memorial for Forgetting
urban storytelling

South Africa’s urban landscape is a complex space where citizens of the same nation do not necessarily share either a historical perspective, or the language to discuss their contrasting heritages. These differences are highlighted and exacerbated by large urban renewal projects, such as those associated with the 2010 World Cup. New icons in the urban environment both obscure and make visible alternating aspects of the city’s social environment.

This project -- a collaboration with Christian Ernsten from Partizan Public -- began with the notion that objects are an “augmentation to speech.” Artists, architects, and designers of the built environment contribute to the narration of a city’s history through the production of monuments, city blocks, apartment buildings, heritage trails, and graveyards.

We set out to collect some of these narratives: stories of, for, and about Cape Town that are part verbal and part visual; stories of reconciliation and reparation, identity and otherness, memory and the desire to forget; stories that are in danger of being forgotten as they are are overwritten by recent urban development. The research was funded by a grant from the Mondrian Foundation, in affiliation with the Dutch Arts Collaboratory.

A Memorial for Forgetting in Abitare [2010].