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To Remember or to Forget: The Implications of the Monument

Part 1 Dissertation 2013
Jessica Beresford
University of Lincoln, UK
To remember and to forget is a reciprocal relationship. The desire to memorialise in the hope of remembering stems from the innate fear of forgetting; (Young 2003) but how and to what extent does memorialisation through architecture help society to remember, or to forget, historic events?

The presumption that we can imbue a sense of loss and memory through an artefact such as architecture is becoming ever more challenged in a culture that has arguably become desensitised to memorials. As Robert Musil wrote, ‘there is nothing in the world more invisible than the monument.’ (as cited in DeCoste and Schwartz 2000, p.176)
The common thread that runs through this dissertation is the questionable permanence of architecture within the realms of memorialisation and in what way society should approach the inevitability of forgetting. The desire to physically imbue a memory within architecture to acknowledge remembrance suggests that society is in turn, predicting that without doing so, we will forget.

Ultimately, through the exploration of theoretical concepts and controversial case studies within this research, if anything is certain, it is that the ‘perpetual irresolution’ over ‘which kind of memory to preserve, [and] how to do it’ may in fact be the best way to engage in memory. (Young 1992, p.270) After all, whilst there is debate, society is not likely to forget.

Jessica Beresford

Douglas Gittens
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