Trefort-Garden Monument 2014
“Names in the mortar joints”
We consider our entry to the competition to be similar to monuments and public space interventions that do not want to express something at all costs, and lack narrative and heroism, and thus enable various interpretations on the one hand, but can also remain almost unnoticed on the other. As examples for such monuments, we can mention Gunter Demnig’s concept of ‘Stolpersteine’ (=stumbling blocks), Jochen Gerz’s project called the ‘Square of the Invisible Monument’, as well as the Monument against Fascism, designed jointly by Jochen Gerz and Esther Shalev-Gerz, realized in 1986 in Harburg.
In our opinion, a given community’s responsibility for their past cannot be passed on to monuments. Remembering the tragedy that happened 70 year ago, which has already become part of the university’s history, has to recall events that happened long time ago, in some cases related to each other, in others not. For the citizens of today’s university, this cannot be done through one centralized and clear message and narrative. There is a need for a concessive monument.
The sign designed by us is huge (nearly 250 m long), and at the same time almost impossibly small (barely 1 cm high). It expresses the unique and dramatic loss associated with this specific period in the university’s history, but it is not placed into the sight of citizens of today’s university day after day. We would like to raise the interest for recollection not with a direct, visible element, but with a sign, or rather, sign-system, which can remain invisible for the uninterested eye. Instead of allocating one specific place, we intended to create a linear process: the total sign runs through the whole garden, each element of which, however, does have a specific, objective, descriptive content.
Our monument will be realized on the facade of the buildings The integration, organic connection of this sign to the walls may express togetherness, and declare that the university identifies with its own history.
We wanted to create something both of monumental scale, and concealing size. Accordingly, the dimensions of our intervention are determined by the approximately 10×10 mm size of the existing mortar joints. Horizontal joints at the height of approximately 150 cm from the walking surface shall be cleaned and recessed, and the bronze stripes are then to be inserted from window to window, covering the joints. The names of the victims and the most important data known about them are carved into these bronze stripes. Names are not listed in an alphabetic or chronological order, but randomized, which also expresses the separate, personal tragedies of the victims.
The essence of our proposal is thus the process itself. It does not create one single monument that can be ceremonially inaugurated and wreathed once a year (although our concept does allow this approach as well). Instead, the monument can be continuously developed, completed – following the results of ongoing research –, and at the same time its reception and understanding may also be a process. Interpreting the memorial (going close and leaning down in order to read it), finding certain names requires and assumes the viewer’s personal act of remembrance.
The ‘MM Group’
Levente Szabó architects,
students and masters of ”ÉME Master School” Cycle XXII.
and Akos Polgardi graphic designer, Farkas Albert sculptor