Date of Award
Master in Interior Architecture
War crimes, such as slavery and rape can lead to hatred between countries of perpetrators and victims, souring political relationships for generations. Memorials of these atrocities are the physical indication of an effort, however nascent, to continue the dialogue and keep questioning the tragic history. The memorial as a reminder of a specific incident, not only changes the relationship of surrounding spaces within the site but also between different groups that are engaged in that specific history.
In South Korea, the history of sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II has been a major cause of anti- Japanese sentiment, leading to international conflict. Since 2011, memorials to the victims of sexual slavery, called Statues of Peace, have been erected throughout South Korea as a call for apology and remembrance of the victims. The first of these statues, which sits in front of the former Japanese Embassy in Seoul, is where weekly demonstrations have taken place for 29 years.
Such statues commemorating a sensitive memory that involve specific countries can create a site of confrontation. In fact, the presence of the statue and the weekly demonstration halted the reconstruction of the Japanese embassy in 2019. Acknowledging the state of tension, rather than avoiding it, is the first step in improving the political relationship; and these spaces of confrontation hold real potential. The tension created in the site is not negative energy, but is the fuel that will always facilitate a dialogue.
Today, the statue gazes toward a construction fence built around the empty Japanese Embassy plot, provoking critical questions. How should one proceed with sensitive dialogue without being so delicate that no progress is made? As a response, the intervention begins by reconstructing the lost memory, a recreation of the past Embassy building, through re-using the construction fence, and existing political tension as a building material. The gaze of the statue, from the other side of the curb, then penetrates through the new volume of the Japanese Embassy. This creates a corridor that invites visitors into the memorial, which itself grows out of ongoing tension. The intervention that creates a monumental space that starts with the acknowledgment and utilization of the existing political tension as material to build a different relationship.
Park, Mary, "Generating tension : memorial of sexual slavery" (2020). Masters Theses. 543.
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