December 7, 2010
oil kirche
Oil in the Rain, Photo by Samar Singla, 2009 (source)


A blow lasts a hundredth of a second. Its registration, a bruise, may last several days or even weeks. Trace evidence is left behind when different objects come into contact with one another revealing a past narrative. Fingerprints indicate a hand that was once in contact; skid marks on the runway recall a flight.


Trauma affects mushrooms, like humans they may suffer similarly by undergoing a change in color following an impact. Once the cap of a Boletus erythropusis nicked and the cell walls are broken, oxygen alters their color from brownish-orange to a range of iridescent tones. There are many famous blue-bruising mushrooms, which are mostly either poisonous or hallucinogenic. Walking amongst these psychedelic fungi in a forest could produce fantastic blue-black footsteps, as their color transfers onto the shoes which tread upon them.


Light unveils marks on a road; foreign fluids such as oil, spilled on the wet surface of the asphalt generate rainbows through reflection. These colorful stains indicate a car’s dripping engine, which may have since left the scene.


When derelict buildings are demolished, they also leave signs of their one-time existence on adjoining structures. A white-tiled wall of a bathroom may remain on the second story of the neighboring party wall or perhaps the fragments of steps from a former staircase may have survived.


Like bruises, renewal and regeneration will usually diminish any remnants with time.


Daniel Fernàndez Pascual


Frauenkirche Rubble, Berlin (source)


A bruise is a photograph in flesh, an abstracted index of action in color. It is a place of injury, whereby red and blue mark the site of impact. A locus of tenderness, with its red and blue demarcation from undamaged tissue, the bruise depicts in two dimensions, a violence now past.


An urban assault can be remembered as well and traced in physical terms. In Dresden, the Frauenkirche’s flecked, reconstructed surface represents an enduring urban trauma. Since German reunification, and the extension of Western funds to the formerly socialist state, Dresden’s historic center has been reinstated as a predominantly baroque city. Tourism and civic pride have encouraged this refurbishing and in a metaphorical spirit far from subtle, authorities have reconstructed the Frauenkirche from mixed materials, from both new stones and from those charred building blocks rescued post-war.


The Frauenkirche’s combination of new and old stones, some clean and others charred by the bombing, creates a collage. The black and white geometry builds a form of seemingly positive and negative spaces. The black, burnt bricks, picked from heaps of rubble and reused in the restored church, mark the specific site of violence and commemorate the larger destruction of the city during the Second World War.


Unlike a bruise which exclaims itself for some days before it, and its ache, fade away, Dresden’s injury has been made monumental and persists in the church’s built form. The Frauenkirche is a site unhealed, a monument which proposes that it is the indexing of violence, its retention on site and in physical terms, which best serves the maintenance of memory.


Rachel Engler



Edited by Erandi de Silva


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