The Shape of Memories

January 2, 2020

High above the Arctic Circle in the fishing village of Vardø, Norway sits the Steilneset Memorial. Created by architect Peter Zumthor and artist Louise Bourgeois, the memorial remembers the 91 women and men who were burned at the stake after being found guilty of sorcery in 1621.

As part of her ongoing research into how women are remembered (or not remembered) in memorials, Professor Rebecca Krinke (Landscape Architecture) traveled nearly 4,000 miles to visit the Steilneset Memorial and study the dialogue it creates with the stark landscape and village of Vardø.

“The memorial is quite new and quite remote,” said Krinke. “The scholarship on it is in a fledgling state.” But the structures draw a clear connection between memory and place—both of which are themes at the heart of Krinke’s scholarly and creative practice.

Krinke’s work includes photo documentation and drawings of memorials as a means to examine their cultural and spatial context. “The literature surrounding memorials currently focuses on the experiences inside of the memorial or the design of the memorial,” explained Krinke. “What I am especially interested in is exploring the memorial’s relationship with the larger landscape and how the memorial is being used in the present-day life of Vardø.”

Using her current research on the Steilneset Memorial, Krinke will create an illustrated critical essay as well as experimental drawings. “The final series of images will combine photos, maps, names of those being remembered, and words that the creators used to describe the memorials. All of this will create new opportunities for sharing emotion and empathy between the memorial subjects and viewers,” concluded Krinke.

There are 25 statues honoring historical figures in New York City’s Central Park. They include a sculpture of a Polish king, a Venezuelan military leader, a Prussian naturalist, and even a sled dog. But not a single one of these statues is in honor of a historical woman.

Our planet’s changing climate will radically transform not only our landscapes but the industries that have developed around them. In her capstone, M.L.A. student Rachel Valenziano explores how to redevelop areas of the Louisiana coastline that are currently used by the oil and gas industry.

Last fall the Department of Landscape Architecture gave second and third-year master’s students the opportunity to select their own studios for the very first time.