Curated Decay (2017) argues that things are worth preserving, whereas some things can’t be preserved; better by far to watch them rot
This post concerns Curated Decay: Heritage Beyond Saving (2017) by Caitlin DeSilvey.
I first learned about this impressive book some time back on Twitter.
You can access a London School of Economics review of it here.
If you do a Twitter search for “Curated Decay,” you can find many interesting tweets about the book.
Not all things can be preserved
I am highly taken by the concept underlying Caitlin DeSilvey’s study.
The concept is most interesting. In a nutshell, DeSilvey notes, some potential heritage sites are not going to be preserved, no matter what.
Sometimes, that is, transience and impermanence – as demonstrated through (by way of example) the imposing power of rot, decay, deterioration, and erosion – have the upper hand.
Under such conditions, what does a person, trained within the framework, mindset, and worldview of “preservation,” as it is traditionally configured, to do?
The book is positioned as an experiment. It’s a work in progress.
For some readers, the lack of a definitive conclusion, in Caitlin DeSilvey’s study, may be irksome. I would not know. I feel at home with uncertainty and ambiguity. For that reason, from my perspective, the lack of a conclusion warrants celebration. The lack of a conclusion, in fact, is the underlying theme of the study.
Trees and metal intertwined
At an early chapter, the author refers to a situation where a tree at an abandoned site has over the years incorporated chunks of abandoned machinery into its bark.
I was reminded, when I read this passage, of situations in my local neighbourhoods, where parts of metal fences have, similarly, been incorporated into the barks of trees. I now see that metal-and-wood configuration from a different perspective, having read the above-noted passage.
The book is a work of art. It prompts a person to look at things anew. I recommend it highly.