The future of ruins: the baroque melancholy of Hashima

Lavery, C. , Dixon, D. P. and Hassall, L. (2014) The future of ruins: the baroque melancholy of Hashima. Environment and Planning A, 46(11), pp. 2569-2584. (doi: 10.1068/a46179)

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Here, we present an iteration of our theoretical/creative writing project Hashima, begun in 2012. The paper is a collaboration and draws on the different discourses, practices and sensibilities of a performance theorist, a geographer, and a visual artist. For us, Hashima, located off the coast of Nagasaki, Japan, and a former site of forced labor and intensive offshore coal-mining, is a provocation for experimentation. Hashima, exploited and abject, has offered itself, unsurprisingly, to the fetishistic gaze of artists, photographers urban explorers, and ruin enthusiasts. The logic here is to control representation, and to determine and fix the meaning of the island as always in reference to something else and elsewhere. Paradoxically, there is no sense of temporality or transformation in these representations of ruins; time has been stopped in an image. By contrast, we want to draw out the allegorical value of Hashima not as a site of loss, but as a baroque, blasted landscape of monstrous becomings that resists, and forefronts, this tendency to collapse history into nature. In the following, we introduce the island before turning to an exegesis of Walter Benjamin’s writing on German baroque tragedy in order to demonstrate how representation itself becomes tainted through a material encounter with the baroque’s two primary topoi, the ruin and the labyrinth. To do this, we finish with a creative narrative and two images illustrating our methodology.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Lavery, Professor Carl and Dixon, Professor Deborah
Authors: Lavery, C., Dixon, D. P., and Hassall, L.
College/School:College of Arts & Humanities > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Theatre Film and TV Studies
College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
Journal Name:Environment and Planning A
Publisher:Pion Ltd.
ISSN (Online):1472-3409

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
623221The Future of Ruins: Reclaiming Abandonment and Toxicity on Hashima IslandDeborah DixonArts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)AH/K005308/1SCHOOL OF GEOGRAPHICAL & EARTH SCIENCES