Written by Johanna Nylund and Sofia Paasikivi
With the feeling of running out of time, we were multitasking and creating the visual world for the exhibition by making posters, ads, invitations and, most importantly, choosing the main colour theme of the exhibition. To add to the experience of visiting the exhibition, we also wanted to create a certain ambience with the aid of sounds. After considering different choices, we picked nature sounds, such as birds, wind and the sound of running water, as the Aura River runs near the Ristimäki site. We were also able to exhibit some of the archaeological findings from the field itself, some discovered as recently as 2015; some findings even came directly from the field to the exhibition, which is not a common practice when the research is still in progress. The exhibition opened on June 24th 2015 and ran till August 16th 2015. Even though the exhibition was executed with a tight schedule and limited resources, we were happy with the results.
This year’s excavations at Ristimäki began during the final month of the exhibition. This brought a few new additions for the exhibition: we gave out maps to the site and took in enrollments for the two-week long public excavations. We also passed out information of other activities at the excavation area. After seeing the exhibition, many people visited the excavation site and had a guided tour there or took part in the excavations as volunteers. Other exhibition-visitors had already been at the excavations and visited the exhibition to learn about the work done in earlier years. Getting people interested in both, the excavations and the exhibition, was one of our main goals, as public archaeology has played a significant role in the Ristimäki excavations since 2014.
Approximately 1500 people visited the exhibition during the summer. This number may seem small compared to the 4000 visitors of the excavation site in 2014, but it shows the difference between public’s interest in seeing “the real deal” or a mere exhibition of it. Also, the fast cycle of what is new and interesting is a big challenge to scientific research in cultural heritage and projects related to it. Public archaeology and community involvement in archaeological projects in this scale is fairly new in Finland, but as the funding for cultural heritage research is scarce, it is all the more important to educate people about the cultural heritage sites and about the research on them.
Ruohonen, Juha: Kirkollisen kulttuurin alkulähteillä. Kaarinan Ravattulan varhaiskeskiaikainen kirkko ja kirkkomaa (Historiallinen aikakausikirja, December 2013).
About the authors:
Johanna Nylund is a student of European Ethnology and archaeology at the University of Turku. Sofia Paasikivi is a student of cultural history and archaeology at the University of Turku.
Written by Roberta Caldas
Uncomfortable heritage can be defined by a past event of human rights violations that, although uncomfortable or shameful, is part of what shapes a group of people. The National Socialist persecution and systematic annihilation of different minorities is an example. The Khmer Rouge persecution of intellectuals and those against the regime is another.
The shaping of memory has been done for centuries. Statues, plaques and monuments to mark a ruler or the outcome of a battle have been used for a long time to tell the people what to remember and how to remember.
Since the Second World War, uncomfortable memories of atrocities started to be viewed as something to remember. The motto of “may we never forget so we may never repeat” (Adorno, 1971) came to use and monuments, memorial museums and memorials in situ started to occupy the urban landscape.
To interpret such uncomfortable events is a very delicate subject. It means shaping the collective memory of a society on events that are not easy to admit and are painful to remember. It is choosing to commemorate victims rather than remember tyrants and to focus on resistance rather than torture or persecution techniques.
Furthermore, uncomfortable heritage interpretation exists especially to connect the past with current events to make a better future. The main goal is reflection.
Some basic guidelines and examples for the interpretation of uncomfortable heritage
Through personal stories, the visitor has the chance to better connect and to identify himself to the broader subject. A good example is the story of Anne Frank, a regular 13-year-old girl that through her own experiences as a victim of Nazi persecution, tells us the horrors of that time bringing us closer to that reality.
Victims, perpetrators and silent players
The main goal of memorial sites should be to commemorate victims by touching visitors and bringing them together against human rights violations. The memorial museum aims to inform on context, history and perpetrators in a very objective perspective while touching and awakening visitors to the harm suffered by the victims.
The Museo Memoria y Tolerancia in Mexico City also brings to light the role of silence and abstinence of opinion in times of cruelty. After presenting uncomfortable heritage around the world from the last century and present times, it connects the visitor with the reality in Mexico, showing how prejudice and extremism can lead to terrible consequences. The Museo Memoria y Tolerancia is the most successful example of a museum about uncomfortable heritage connecting the past and the present I have encountered in my research.
New media, such as mobile applications and augmented reality, is a great way to connect the younger public to historical heritage sites. It takes interactivity and new technology to their phones. Mobile applications can also be used as a more inexpensive way to create an audio guide for museums and memorials or a self-guided audio and interactive tour for a thematic route or heritage trail of a city or area.
In July 2014, I took part on a project with the BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg to raise the public’s interest to the 1936 Olympic Village in Elstal, a town 30 minutes away from Berlin. The project consisted on a one-day event that would use new media as a awareness tool. We developed a conceptual video installation on the swimming pool that reminded visitors of the history behind that Olympic Village that served as Nazi propaganda and later as a military camp for the Soviets and that was open for interpretation. For specific information on buildings and history, we experimented with augmented reality. Visitors could direct their phones to any building at the site and would have access to information on different aspects of the Village through video, audio, text and images.
About the author - Roberta Caldas
Written by Aleksandra Kozieł
The European Union is now a recognisable economic and political cooperation of 28 countries. Historically it was known as European Coal and Steel Community, followed by European Communities and officially established as European Union by Maastricht Treaty. Since the very beginning it focused on economic cooperation, then on political aspects; it was not well-known for its cooperation over cultural issues. But can the EU be responsible for cultural heritage of its member states?
The first decades of the European Coal and Steel Community, then the European Communities were absolutely not focused on cultural matters. In fact, the importance of cultural integration was pushed aside over economy, but with the time passing by member states started to realise that the cooperation cannot be built only on the economical factors. Within years the topic of common heritage was slowly injected into the European policy. Politicians started to realise that common aims might be better understood by citizens of the EU in relation to common past and defining the common heritage. That’s how the idea of the European Heritage Label was created.
Can we define one moment in the timeline of building common heritage in the EU when it all started? Not clearly. But the EHL initiative was first discussed in 2005, when the first ideas appeared during Rencontres pour l’Europe de la Culture talks. But year 2006 is more often recognised as the landmark in creating common European initiative. The person who stood behind intergovernmental action was French Minister of Culture, Rennaud Donnedieu de Vabres. He suggested that it is necessary for Europeans to have a common reference point to identify with the European citizenship, idea still abstract for many people. The best and easiest way to provide common point within the European community was a reference to the widely understood European heritage.
However, the first intergovernmental list of European Heritage Label objects consisted of objects from only 18 member states. Inauguration of the initiative took place 50 years after signing Treaties of Rome, the official treaties that brought to life the European Coal and Steel Community in 1957. That’s when the first 3 objects received European Heritage Label title. Those 3 first inscriptions, Cluny Abbey, R. Shuman’s house in Sey-Chazelles and Papal palace in Avignon, were extended by inscription of the Acropolis the day after. Finally, the first inscription list contained 68 objects.
In 2008 the initiative was changed a bit. The new decision was taken, changing intergovernmental initiative into official initiative of the European Union, thus invalidating previous arrangements. The objects were supposed to be reported once again, meaning the repetition of all the steps done before. It caused bitter response, because not all the objects that received the title the first time were recognised again. After this new beginning the initiative started moving forward with official legal acts by the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union. The main document, The decision of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing UE action for the European Heritage Label, became the basis for the initiative.
The main question is what actually is the European Heritage Label title? How does it distinct the objects from many other objects equally important from the point of view of heritage? Also some may ask how it differs from the UNESCO World Heritage List? The idea of European Heritage Label is supposed to acknowledge lieux de mémoire, symbols of european integration, common history, culture and values for many EU countries. The objects are supposed to strengthen the feeling of european citizenship. Nowadays, with the identity crisis, the common values are supposed to motivate and stimulate member states to act together and achieve common goals.
The first initiative jumped the gun and the change depreciated the general idea. The idea that is good, what is worth to highlight. Slowly developing, it can grow and strengthen and, what is really important right now, gain international recognition. The recognition is what is missing in the European Heritage Label. Nevertheless, the next few years will show whether this initiative succeeds.
Written by Giacomo Crivellari
There are recurrent scenarios that can be typically observed while visiting places, or entities, inscribed in the World Heritage List, and one of these is related with the valorization of the site itself. The point of interest, independently from its natural or cultural character, is often surrounded by a universe of minor attractions that might be more or less related. The most common practice for the visitors is to make their way to the expected point of interest through a jungle of distractions, resellers, reproductions and so on. This implies a distortion for the focus on the entity itself, spreading the attention in a vaster area: the Heritage becomes relatively interesting, losing its absolute value. The incomes of tourism are divided by a greater amount of stakeholders, or better, external agents, with no or very little enhancement of the quality of the visit itself.
A marketing approach could explain this phenomenon: an inscription to the World Heritage List not only means direct funding for the conservation of the monument itself, but also implies the activation of a new business that many want to pursue, from the street food stalls to the nearby municipalities, tour agencies and the list continues. The consequences of a broader offer are twofold; the enrichment of a bigger part of the population, that typically has never relied on tourism for their incomes, and the growing of the attention to minor sites of interest, that could activate more projects of conservation. These are examples of tangible improvements for the nearby areas. The drawbacks are related to the scarcity of resources that are already dedicated to the patrimony, which might be even more affected by the increasing number of dividends. The bigger the intervention area is, the fewer the specific funds for the singular projects are. When a site is proposed for being included on the list of World Heritage Sites, many people share the value of that entity, and agree on its exceptional features. But after the recognition, even more people want to take advantage from it, and are disposed to deny its unique character promoting similar and equivalent attractions.
Moreover, behind any mere economical aspect, there is a conceptual change that is affecting the way we perceive heritage sites, and it is worsening their exploitation: the claim of the subjectivity of the value. It consists in the refusal of the idea that an entity has more value than another due to an objective evaluation, in this case the UNESCO criteria. As soon as a value is not shared, it loses its meaning and even stops existing. Claiming that the value of the heritage is relative is an unforgivable oxymoron that immediately devalues the object. This relativism of the heritage concept has been applied in many cases and many discussions as a powerful tool to reset the list of priorities while planning the intervention necessary for its conservation. The rejection of the absolute value of the object dramatically leads to a never ending phenomenological discussion, with no useful consequences but the consumption of time and intellectual resources. Considering the amount of eminent personalities that have devoted their lives to study the issue of setting a list of criteria and priorities for the preservation and the transmission of the fundamental values for humanity, it is anachronistic and non-sense to return to the relativism of the heritage concept.
The two behaviors, on the one hand the uncontrolled exploitation of the heritages sites, and on the other hand the refusal of any absolute value coming from the World Heritage List, are seriously affecting the actual potential for future preservation efforts. It is fundamental to defend the UNESCO criteria, and to withstand the results of their applications against relativism. The first step consists in the re-affirmation of the importance of the World Heritage Center, its promotion and the respect of its principles and resolutions. Subsequently comes the creation of strongly-bonded local groups that directly support the patrimony, with their own resources and for their own and general sake, ensuring that the leakage of resources is as limited as possible. Between all the amazing examples of crowd sourced restoration projects, it is worth referencing the Great Mosque of Djenné, Mali, where the whole population of the village is involved in the preservation of their very unique Heritage. If every site, or entity, present on the list of the world’s patrimony could count on such a powerful and shared impulse, there would be considerably more quality in the conservation of the whole human cultural heritage.
About the author - Giacomo Crivellari
Written by Karolyna Koppke
The aim of this article is to present an urban intervention carried out in Ouro Preto, a city located in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. Ouro Preto is the most eloquent expression of the gold cycle in Brazil, undertaken during the eighteenth century. It is a national monument since 1933 and in 1980 it was recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The Horto dos Contos Park is part of a broader project called "Recovery and landscaping of the Horto Botânico and Vale dos Contos" that was implemented in 2008, undertaken by the Monumenta Program, which promoted the revitalization of old buildings and cities across the country. The new public area was built on the site of the old botanical garden and is located in the Pilar neighborhood, just at the origin of the urban core in the city. On the project, two areas originated from different urban shaping processes are interconnected through a footbridge beside the Casa dos Contos Museum, under a bridge with the same name.
It is, in fact, a structural intervention, in the sense that it deeply interferes in the traditional logic of occupation of the ancient cities in Minas Gerais. This short article is linked to a master’s thesis developed within the master’s program in Built Environment and Sustainable Heritage (MACPS) from the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG).
The research is concentrated in the Vale dos Contos stretch, given its urban morphological configuration. The valley is indeed inserted into the old town hull, while the ancient Horto Botânico area has a broader and more dispersed character, setting up a different kind of urban spatial conformation, less related to the objectives of the investigation.
In Vale dos Contos, it was undertaken the openness to the public use of a block center inserted in the backyards of the eighteenth-century houses. Thus the main objective of the investigation is to understand how the relations between public and private space changed after the implementation of the project.
The earliest reference to the design of a park in the Vale dos Contos area is found in the first report written by the Portuguese architect Alfredo Evangelista Viana Lima, upon his hiring as a consultant by UNESCO in technical cooperation agreement with the National Historic and Artistic Heritage Direction (DPHAN). In 1975, João Pinheiro Foundation presented a master plan for Ouro Preto which included the proposed park. In the 1980s, the architects Maria Elisa Costa and Paulo Jobim, with Lucio Costa’s consultancy, developed a project for the implementation of the Horto dos Contos. Their effective execution happened, however, only in the 2000s, under the Monumenta Program. One of the thesis’ main goals is exactly the reconstruction of the history of the project.
According to Bonduki (2010: 227), "The intervention [...] may represent the biggest news since the historic core was protected." Indeed, despite being a small intervention, its design makes room for new possibilities of relationship with Ouro Preto’s public areas. Understanding which possibilities are those is essential to know the project results. Even if the realities of the Brazilian old cities are distinct throughout the country, noticing by these kinds of actions that these cities are so vivid and dynamic as the contemporary agglomerations is already realizing that they can be rethought and rebuilt every day.