Caitlin DeSilvey – Curated Decay

Caitlin DeSilvey, associate professor of cultural geography at the University of Exeter, and member of Bjørnar Olsen’s CAS-project After Discourse: Things, Archaeology, And Heritage in the 21st Century, has a book out now on University of Minnesota Press. In Curated Decay: Heritage Beyond Saving, DeSilvey explores several themes which compel us to rethink conventional notions of heritage conservation. Her emphasis, more specifically, is on natural processes of decay, entropy and ruination occuring at vulnerable heritage sites from postindustrial ruins in the German Ruhr area to derelict homesteads in Montana. Drawing on case studies from a wide variety of places, the book explores key issues of relevance to a heritage practice dealing with ephemera. Concepts such as palliative curation, positive passivity, postpreservation and intentional fragmentation are central in the investigation of experimental heritage practices, which are understood as “temporary arrangements of matter that shuttle between durability and vulnerability”.


Curated Decay: Heritage Beyond Saving

This is what the University of Minnesota Press writes about Curated Decay.

Transporting readers from derelict homesteads to imperiled harbors, postindustrial ruins to Cold War test sites, Curated Decay presents an unparalleled provocation to conventional thinking on the conservation of cultural heritage. Caitlin DeSilvey proposes rethinking the care of certain vulnerable sites in terms of ecology and entropy, and explains how we must adopt an ethical stance that allows us to collaborate with—rather than defend against—natural processes.

Curated Decay chronicles DeSilvey’s travels to places where experiments in curated ruination and creative collapse are under way, or under consideration. It uses case studies from the United States, Europe, and elsewhere to explore how objects and structures produce meaning not only in their preservation and persistence, but also in their decay and disintegration. Through accessible and engaging discussion of specific places and their stories, it traces how cultural memory is generated in encounters with ephemeral artifacts and architecture

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