Sandy Prita Meier (7)
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Introduction The Place In-between

Sandy Prita Meier Indiana University Press ePub

On the Swahili coast of east Africa, monumental stone demarcates the border zone between the African continent and the Indian Ocean. Since at least the twelfth century locals have built luminously white coral stone houses, tombs, and mosques to transform wild coastlands into ordered civilization. Kilwa, a powerful port city in the fourteenth century, was famous for the glowing whiteness of its stone façades. Its harbor palace complex, known as Husuni Kubwa (figure 0.1), once dominated the coast of east Africa, its vaulted pavilions, domed halls, and hundred-plus rooms covering nearly a hectare on a promontory overlooking the Indian Ocean. Aluminous white lime plaster, made of shells and coral, covered its walls, reflecting the light of the sun so that its grandeur could be seen from great distances by incoming ships. Kilwa’s networks connected the societies and economies of mainland Africa with the maritime world of the western Indian Ocean, and a key function of its waterfront architecture was to structure the exchange of ideas, goods, and also people across vast distances. It was an architecture of mercantile mobility whose style mirrored the built form of oversea emporia, especially those of the Arabian Sea.

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3 Architecture Out of Place: The Politics of Style in Zanzibar

Sandy Prita Meier Indiana University Press ePub

The third Busaidi sultan of Zanzibar, Seyyid Barghash (r. 1870–1888), created vistas and monuments of modern vision that radically transformed the way Zanzibar Stone Town’s built environment was experienced. His reign was an era of unprecedented transcontinental competition, when would-be colonizers, financial speculators, adventurers, and merchants from all over the world converged on Zanzibar City. Zanzibar became a key node in the global market, selling cloves (produced by enslaved plantation workers) and ivory to the industrializing North and supplying African consumers with North American, South Asian, and European commodities. The Busaidi family and their business partners amassed huge fortunes as a result, and Barghash spent much of his considerable wealth building both public and private monuments; these defined the cityscape of Zanzibar from afar, eventually becoming the landmarks of the city and island.

While in many ways Barghash sought to present a fashionably “new” city to the world, his structures were a complex synthesis of old and new sign systems. This was especially the case with Beit al Ajaib, the House of Wonders (plate 11), his most ambitious architectural monument, and the focus of much of this chapter. As we shall see, the structure served not only to visualize his ambition to assert his control over the city in the face of European colonizing agendas, but also to subvert local histories and indigenous claims to the city. Further, what will become clear is that the House of Wonders was not only about geopolitical power; it was also an expression of Barghash’s dream to make Zanzibar a center of artistic and technological innovation. The verandahs of the House of Wonders acted as a grand stage for new musical performances, and they framed his vision of Zanzibar as a perfect picture of modernity. The House of Wonders therefore represents a pivotal moment in the architectural history of the coast, when old and new systems of signification converged and overlapped to produce a spectacle of radical modernity.

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4 At Home in the World: Living with Transoceanic Things

Sandy Prita Meier Indiana University Press ePub

Swahili coast interior design and ornament invites an extended exploration of the meaning of objects when their “life” is shaped by transoceanic circulation. As we have seen in the case of Zanzibar, its modern palaces existed at the intersection of new and old building cultures. Sultan Barghash deployed a multiplicity of forms and technologies to manufacture architectural theaters of triumph and pleasure. His project was part of a larger nineteenth century phenomenon: the desire to transform east Africa’s port cities into strategic sites of imperial power and capitalist modernization. This chapter presents a more intimate analysis of the social lives enacted within the architectural spaces of the Swahili city. I explore the reasons why imported ornament and objects captured the imagination of Swahili coast residents for centuries and how the impact of industrial modernity intensified the local desire to collect things from overseas.

People give meaning to objects by arranging them in relationship to other things. The production of meaning therefore has a physical effect on the material environment, since such arrangements change how we experience a particular room or material landscape. When an object comes to rest in a new place it also expresses a new idea or concept. Through its arrangement in real space it will become commodity, artifact, art, souvenir, or relic. How objects take on different values and meanings as they move through time and space is now often called the “social life of things,” after Arjun Appadurai’s seminal edited book of the same title, published in 1988. But it is people who set this life in motion through various actions upon things, including trading them, buying them, or placing them on altars or graves. In a sense the agency of things is always constituted by someone’s actions. Scholars such as Patricia Spyer and Nicholas Thomas, among others, have complicated our understanding of human–object relationships by foregrounding how the act of appropriating things from a foreign society simultaneously consolidates and displaces existing systems of signification.1 The moment of displacement from one context to another brings the thing into sharp focus: it presents the object laid bare, before it is assimilated and before it transforms and is transformed by its new context. When objects are displaced, we become particularly aware of their physical presence and materiality. They stand out. This is especially the case with trade objects that circulate across physical borders and move into vastly different cultural settings. Because they are exotic or foreign they tend to retain something uncanny and untranslatable about their form, even long after they have come to rest in their new homes. We can apprehend them as a thing, or we see their pure presence, outside of the cultural meaning projected onto them, more easily. This thing-ness is exactly what was cultivated as an aesthetic in the interior spaces of the Swahili coast. The Swahili culture of things celebrates the ability to displace objects and values across great distances.

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2 A “Curious” Minaret: Sacred Place and the Politics of Islam

Sandy Prita Meier Indiana University Press ePub

While stone architecture in general is important in local worldviews, only one type of masonry structure is essential for creating sacred place on the Swahili coast: a mosque. Port cities, such as Mombasa, Lamu, and Zanzibar, can claim being true stone towns precisely because their histories begin with the building of stone mosques. For example, Mombasan origin stories recount how founding father Shehe Mvita constructed the first stone mosque on Mombasa Island with the help of three mysterious men from “the North.” Their help came in the form of a new building material: lime mortar, the binding agent that makes stone masonry possible.1 The earliest written documentation of this event presents lime as miraculous matter: “The lime which the three strangers presented to Shehe was sufficient for building a mosque in a few days, whereupon these remarkable persons departed and constructed mosques in other places.”2 Transforming the architectonic order of Mombasa from earthen impermanence to stone permanence marks the beginning of Islamic time on Mombasa Island.

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Appendix

Sandy Prita Meier Indiana University Press ePub

Aziz Ahmed, November 2005

Rahima Ali, May 2005

Bi Shuali Amran, May 2005

Sheikh Msellem Amin, January 2005

Fatuma Mbwana Amiri, March 2005

Hadija Mmwana Amiri, March 2005

Mzee Hamid Mohammad al Baloushi, 2004–2005, 2014

Ustadh Ahmad Nassir Juma Bhalo, February 2004 and July 2013

Mama Hubwa, 2004–2015

Abdul Rasul Hussein, April 2005

Zaiten Hussain, February, May 2005

Mohammad Jaffer, April 2005

Ma’allim Ali Jemadari, August 2003

Sheib Khamis, June 2005

Nawas Khan, September 2004–July 2005

Waffyahmed Kotaria, March 2005

Ustadh Khamis Al Kumri, April 2005

Mwalimu Mohammad Matano, July–August 2003, 2004–2005

Mohamed Abdallah Mohamed Matano, July 2013 and July 2014

Mohammad Miran, February 2005

Mohamed Mchulla, 2004, 2005, 2014, 2015

Sheikh Abdullahi Nasser, January, February, April 2006

Stambuli Abdullahi Nasser, February 2004, August 2005

Aisha Mohammad Nassir, 2005

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Noga Kadman (9)
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Conclusion: The Remains of the Past, A Look toward the Future

Noga Kadman Indiana University Press ePub

THE LOWER GALILEE VILLAGE of Saffuriyya had over four thousand residents in 1948. In July of that year the village came under aerial bombardment and artillery attack by the IDF, which led most of its residents to flee, including the village’s armed defenders. The following year the villagers who remained were expelled. Some of the village refugees today live in nearby villages, and others live beyond Israel’s borders, mostly in Lebanon.1 The houses of the village were razed to the ground, and only a few public buildings remain. In 1949 a moshav was established next to the village site, on its land, by Jewish immigrants from Turkey and Bulgaria. A forest was planted over part of the village site by the Jewish National Fund. The rest was declared a national park by the Nature and Parks Authority, with the aim of preserving the site’s ancient history and the traces of the Jewish center that had existed there in the Roman period.

The official name given to the site where Saffuriyya stood was Tzipori—the ancient name of the place, preserved in the Arabic variant. The same name was also given to the Jewish moshav built nearby. The official Israeli map shows the village site with marks signifying a ruin and ruined houses, and a caption—Tzipori National Park. The signage at the JNF forest on the site mentions a convent that remains from the village, but not the village itself. The national park signs refer to the remains of the village and describe it as “small and miserable” for most of its days. The text is oblique as to the circumstances of the village’s depopulation, stating curtly that the village was conquered and “ceased to exist,” and that its residents “moved out.” The information leaflet handed to the park’s visitors speaks of the village only in the context of battles and conquest. It says that “gangs” inhabited the village, and that it was later conquered and “abandoned by its dwellers.” A publication by moshav Tzipori describes its own establishment as a revival of the local Jewish community on the site, after temporarily providing a home to Muslims who brought about its decline. The Arabic name of the village is absent from the text, which states that the village was conquered after its residents “ran for their lives.”

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4 Naming and Mapping the Depopulated Village Sites

Noga Kadman Indiana University Press ePub

What is the name of this place? A few years ago there was a place and it had a name. The place is lost and the name is lost. What is left? At first, a name torn out of a place. Soon, that, too, is erased. Neither place nor name. . . .

—S. Yizhar, “The Silence of the Villages,” Stories of a Plain

NAMING A PLACE and presenting it on a map is an acknowledgment of its presence in the landscape, its historical importance, and its cultural significance. Most of the sites of depopulated Palestinian villages were never granted an official name in Israel, even though the traces of many still remain in the landscape, and despite the Israeli pretension of naming any geographical object in sight, including ruins. Even where names were given to village sites, in most cases the Arab name was not recognized: if the Arab name preserved a biblical name, that earlier name was restored as the official name; in other cases, village sites were given Hebraized names, which usually ignored the content of the Arab names and the cultural world that they reflect. Sometimes the new names were even devoid of any meaning in Hebrew.

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Appendix C. Mapping the Depopulated Palestinian Villages over the Decades

Noga Kadman Indiana University Press ePub

Map 7. From Ramla Sheet (no. 9), Survey of Palestine, British Mandate, 1946, 1:100,000.

Source: © 2015. All rights reserved to the Survey of Israel. Maps 7–9 were printed by permission of the Survey of Israel.

Map 8. From Ramla Sheet (no. 9), Survey of Israel, the State of Israel, 1954, 1:100,000.

Map 9. From Beit Shemesh Sheet (no. 11-1), Survey of Israel, 2003, 1:50,000.

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3 The Depopulated Villages as Viewed by Jewish Inhabitants

Noga Kadman Indiana University Press ePub

Families came from a house of ‘Olim [new Jewish immigrants] / to the abandoned village—true pioneers / demolished the houses, repaired the wrecks / cut paths through the prickly pear cacti growth.

—Segal, Kerem Maharal 1949–1979: 30 Years to the Moshav

IN THE FIRST few years of its existence, Israel carried out a large-scale settlement project, establishing hundreds of Jewish communities on lands of depopulated Palestinian villages, dozens of them in the built-up area of the villages. Research done for this book suggests that the previously built-up area of 108 depopulated villages—over a quarter of the total number of villages—is partly or completely located within Jewish communities nowadays. In 25 villages, Jewish agricultural communities were established within the built-up area of the villages, some using the actual village homes and buildings and some built on top of the ruins. In 19 other villages, Jewish agricultural communities occupy part of the villages’ built-up area. Some were originally established on parts of the village site, and others have been expanded to include it over the year; an additional 64 depopulated villages lie today within Jewish towns or cities. In addition, 23 depopulated villages border on Jewish agricultural communities, of which 19 were built after the villages were depopulated. The lists of all those villages and the Jewish communities that include them can be found in appendix A, along with a map presenting their locations across the country.

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1 Depopulation, Demolition, and Repopulation of the Village Sites

Noga Kadman Indiana University Press ePub

ON THE EVE of the violent events of 1948, the Arab population of British Mandatory Palestine amounted to 1.2 million, of them 850,000 within the borders of what is today recognized as the State of Israel proper; they constituted the great majority of the population of that area. Arab-Palestinian society of the time was largely agricultural, with some two-thirds of the Palestinian population before the war living in villages. Most of the Arab workforce in 1947 in Palestine worked in agriculture.1 On their land the Arab villagers cultivated nearly ten thousand acres of orchards, mostly citrus fruit (on the coastal plain) and olives (in the mountainous areas), as well as figs, grapes, deciduous fruits, and bananas. In the rest of the cultivated area the villagers grew vegetables, legumes, and grains.2

Most of the residents of Arab villages in Palestine were Sunni Muslim, with Christian, Druze, and Shi‘ite minorities present. The majority of the villages stood on hilltops, often built on top of, or in continuation of, much older settlements. In the mountain areas the houses were usually made of stone, and in the coastal plain houses were often constructed of mud.3 In the twentieth century, with the citrus boom, quality of life in the plain improved, and more modern houses began to appear. Every village typically had public structures for religious and social purposes, and later on schools were set up, usually in the largest building in the village.4

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Nancy R Hiller (13)
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9 Where’s the Porch? and Other Intersections between Archaeology and Historic Preservation

Nancy R Hiller Quarry Books ePub

Cheryl Ann Munson

At a historic preservation conference in the 1980s, I was introduced to a noted preservationist and dedicated champion of Indiana’s historic places. Upon learning that I was an archaeologist, he mentioned that he was involved in restoring a house; workers had nearly finished repairing the foundation, but he wondered whether the house would have had porches across its front and back. My specialty within the discipline of archaeology is prehistoric Native American cultures, not nineteenth-century residences, so I did not expect this line of inquiry. (I also wondered why the question wasn’t answered before restoration began.) Still, my questioner was not entirely out of line, considering that archaeologists in the United States have collaborated with historic preservation professionals since the beginning of the preservation movement.

When it comes to preservation, structural and archaeological sites share the same legal foundation, the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, which created the National Register of Historic Places and incorporated the National Historic Landmarks program under the administration of the National Park Service. Congress included Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act as a procedure whereby sponsors of federally funded projects are required to consult with State Historic Preservation Officers to identify, evaluate, and treat historic properties that may be eligible for the National Register. Historic properties include buildings, bridges, and battlefields of the historic era in the United States but also prehistoric Native American villages, mounds, and camp sites. At the state level, laws and procedures generally mirror those of the federal government, so it is no surprise that our State Historic Preservation Office was named the Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology.

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6 Industrial Muncie

Nancy R Hiller Quarry Books ePub

Cynthia Brubaker

As preservationists, we are always looking for what a building can become at the same time as we are investigating what it once was. For that reason, industrial buildings present an especially compelling challenge. Once hubs of extensive and productive activity, when found abandoned or underused they stand as memorials – to the products manufactured inside their walls, to those who sought to create fortunes through those products, and, not least, to those who came to work each day and went back to their families at night. But they also stand as opportunities to connect with their communities today in re-imagined ways of working.

Muncie, Indiana, sixty miles northeast of the state capital, is typical of many small industrial cities in the Northeast and Midwest – once powerhouses that have lost big industry to the South and overseas, yet retain the infrastructure and workforce to recreate themselves in new ways. Incorporated in the mid-nineteenth century, the city had the good fortune to lie within a 2,500-square-mile natural gas field that was discovered in 1876 by coal miners laboring fifteen miles to the north. By 1886 this gas field promised seemingly unlimited fuel for industry.

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7 Preservation as Good Business

Nancy R Hiller Quarry Books ePub

Gayle Karch Cook

Bill and I had always liked indiana history and architecture, and we spent hours exploring southern Indiana in the 1960s when we could spare the gasoline and the time. That was our recreation, eking out a few hours from our small Bloomington business, which we had started together at home and were gradually growing.

In 1976, the bicentennial year, historic preservation was emerging into the limelight nationally and locally. Bloomington Restorations, Inc., newly organized as a non-profit, was bringing attention to worthy old buildings in Monroe County. “Preservation is Good Business” was a National Trust theme, and adaptive reuse was being widely promoted. A stately 1850 downtown Bloomington home, the James Cochran house, was vacant and probably headed for demolition, while our thirteen-year-old medical business was outgrowing its quarters each year. Bill and I decided that we should see if preservation really is good business and renovate the Cochran house as an additional office building – our own bicentennial project.

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2 Economics and Restoration: The Story of a Neighborhood’s Rebirth

Nancy R Hiller Quarry Books ePub

Bill Sturbaum

Our family moved to bloomington in 1963. it was a different city then. A railroad ran through the center of town dividing it socially and economically. East of the tracks was Indiana University, with large homes and expensive student rentals. West of the tracks was the city’s industrial heritage – the railroad, limestone mills, and a massive furniture factory, by then defunct – along with the modest homes originally built for workers.

We came in mid-August because I would be teaching at Bloomington High School. We wanted a house big enough for the seven of us – my wife, Helen, and I, along with our children, Karl, Chris, Arthur, Anne, and Ben. Everything we saw on the east side of town was beyond our price range, yet our realtor showed us nothing on the west side. So we spent our first school year in a duplex near the university. That was the year the Beatles became famous, and we learned their songs through the thin walls that separated our apartment from the one with boys and guitars.

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11 Bloomington Restorations: Saving Landmarks, Neighborhoods, and Bloomington’s Sense of Place

Nancy R Hiller Quarry Books ePub

Donald Granbois & Steve Wyatt

Since its founding in 1976, bloomington restorations inc. has relentlessly strived to save and restore the old buildings and neighborhoods of Bloomington and Monroe County, Indiana. Formed by people fed up with the destruction of landmark houses near downtown Bloomington, the group quickly moved beyond advocacy into the direct action of acquiring and restoring old buildings.

By 2010, our group had saved and helped restore more than seventy-five historic structures, all of them protected by deed restrictions barring demolition. When Indiana Landmarks, the nation’s largest statewide historic preservation group, marked its fiftieth anniversary by offering a $5,000 prize to an organization for lifetime achievement in historic preservation, the award went to Bloomington Restorations. “From a preservation perspective,” said Indiana Landmarks president Marsh Davis, Bloomington Restorations “has done it all, and can legitimately claim a sizable chunk of credit for making Bloomington an attractive, lively, and distinctive place to live and visit.”

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Joanna Grabski (12)
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1. Talking to People about Art

Joanna Grabski Indiana University Press ePub

PATRICK MCNAUGHTON

Without thinking about it deeply, you might not realize that talking to people about art is a practice fraught with difficulty. First, there is the fact that visual art especially, but also music and performance, deploy form to produce an effect in ways that often defy authoritative explanation. Art takes you to places filled with thoughts and emotions, but by a very different route than you would have traveled had words alone been the vehicle in which you rode. Indeed, it sometimes seems that art exists to provide a landscape of exploration and analysis in which words work only with the greatest deliberation, and then at the cost of losing some of art's provocative potency. When you talk to people about art, be they consumers or producers—audiences or artists—you face the problem that words can be clumsy, obfuscating, diffusing tools with which to record the making and experiencing of visual culture. It might be easier to use words to examine the things that exist around art, such as artists’ biographies, influences on their work, the influence they have on others, the ways they manifest technique, or the goals they seek to articulate, though these topics too impose obstacles and are not as straightforward as they might seem. But exploring the broad world of art, from artists’ backgrounds and abilities to the effects that artists seek to create and the experiences that audiences gain from art, is vitally important if we are to comprehend expressive culture's depth of resonance in the human condition and its relevance to all human affairs. So we must seek ways to use words that foster understanding of a creative domain that often seems anathema to verbal exposition.

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5. Narrating the Artist: Seyni Camara and the Multiple Constructions of the Artistic Persona

Joanna Grabski Indiana University Press ePub

SILVIA FORNI

 

Exhibition narratives have long-lasting power in determining the ways in which artists and their work are perceived and appreciated by the public and scholars. Even when the stance taken by curators of successful exhibitions is criticized by reviewers and academics, the implications of their discourse may persist for years. Sometimes, the intellectual and political narratives informing an exhibition prove to be so powerful that they completely mute the personal input of the artists included in the show. At other times, these narratives may subvert or reinforce what artists say about their own work. In all cases, these narratives have great potential to define artists’ works and professional personas.

In this chapter I address the relationship between curatorial narratives and personal self-presentation by focusing on Seyni Camara, a Senegalese sculptor from Casamance, who made her first appearance on the international art scene in the oft-cited seminal exhibition “Magiciens de la Terre” (1989).1 Apparently indifferent to the concerns of art critics, Camara presents herself in a way that seemingly replicates the framing proposed by “Magiciens de la Terre.” However, a closer look at the narratives developed by Camara and her critics reveals a much more complex picture in which personal visions are entangled with local cultural references and global ambitions in an ever-evolving negotiation.

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7. Interweaving Narratives of Art and Activism: Sandra Kriel's Heroic Women

Joanna Grabski Indiana University Press ePub

KIM MILLER

 

This chapter considers the relationship between the process of political radicalization and the production of visual culture in the work of Sandra Kriel, a South African artist who depicts politically active women in her work. A participant in South Africa's resistance art movement, Kriel came of age as an artist and activist during the fight against apartheid, and she is now well known as a politically engaged artist.1 Less is known, however, about the ways in which her commitment to social change and her collaborations and conversations with anti-apartheid activists directly shaped her creative work, in particular her efforts to make visible the integral role that women played in South Africa's struggle for freedom. Not only do the practices of collaboration and conversation bear directly on Kriel's formation as an artist, and especially her political activism as a form of knowledge production, but these are also the tools with which I learned about Kriel's work. The significance of these processes became clear to me during my extensive interviews and conversations with Kriel (2007–2010), which took place in the larger context of my research on South African women artists and activists. The text that follows traces her participation in women's and arts organizations by building an artistic biography from our interviews, and analyzes how her activism in turn led her to pursue an artistic vision that helped create and sustain political identities and recognition for women. Toward this end, I first consider Kriel's political radicalization as it developed largely through conversations and interactions with other activists.

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3. Can the Artist Speak?: Hamid Kachmar's Subversive Redemptive Art of Resistance

Joanna Grabski Indiana University Press ePub

JOSEPH JORDAN

I would go to this land of mine and I would say to it: “Embrace me without fear…. And if all I can do is speak, it is for you I shall speak.”

—AIMÉ CÉSAIRE, “NOTEBOOK OF A RETURN
TO THE NATIVE LAND”

 

Berber artists are not really concerned about personal styles; nor do they care if they are remembered as individuals. Their goals are to present personal views…expressed through the lexicon of collective memory rooted in the tradition of tying knots, combining motifs and taking care that the grammar is not breeched.

—HAMID KACHMAR, RESPONSE TO A QUESTION
ABOUT HIS MOTIVATIONS

In the fall of 2009 Hamid Kachmar, a young Moroccan artist of Amazigh heritage, was featured in a solo show in the Robert and Sallie Brown Gallery and Museum located in the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The mission of the Brown Gallery and the Stone Center is “to critically examine all dimensions of African American, African and African Diaspora cultures through its education program and through the formal exhibition of works of art and other items.”1

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4. Photography, Narrative Interventions, and (Cross) Cultural Representations

Joanna Grabski Indiana University Press ePub

CAROL MAGEE

 

Every year in the wintry cold of late January or early February, Time, Inc., releases the much-anticipated Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. The swimsuit-clad models are meant to transport readers out of the doldrums of winter to the warmth of tropical locations (e.g., Bermuda, Bora Bora, Dominican Republic, Mexico). Shot in a different location every year—Sports Illustrated identifies the locale each time, but in many ways one beach could be any other—each issue offers a fantasy world of sun-drenched fun. Occasionally, however, a site is chosen that manifests its location specifically through well-known land formations or the indigenous architecture. Such is the case with the 1996 swimsuit issue. Shot in South Africa, its presentation of Ndebele visual culture is fundamental to establishing the locale for readers. Beaded jewelry is most common, though there are two images in the photo essay in which Ndebele wall painting predominates.1

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Henry Plummer (5)
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1: Simplicity ~ Pristine Light

Henry Plummer Indiana University Press ePub

1

SIMPLICITY ~ PRISTINE LIGHT

White-Painted Woodwork Meetinghouse (1820) Pleasant Hill, Kentucky

MONOTONE MASS

The radical simplification produced by a single exterior color, characteristic of Shaker architecture, serves to unite each form, while accentuating the play of light over a surface, enveloping the whole in a subdued atmosphere. These monochromatic effects, free of either visual friction or excitement, range from the absolute purity of a white meetinghouse, to the monotone crust of stone or brick around a dwelling, or continuous coat of yellow paint on a workshop.

White Limestone Façade First West Family Dwelling (1811–12) Pleasant Hill, Kentucky

Yellow-Painted Volume Brethren's Shop (1810) Hancock, Massachusetts

PURE WHITE CAVITY

A spotless surface of smooth plaster and white paint serves to purify Shaker space. This image of perfection reveals the slightest sign of dirt, is devoid, one might even say absolved, of darkness, and is inherently ethereal, reduced to nothing but sheer light.

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4: Equality ~ Shared Light

Henry Plummer Indiana University Press ePub

4

EQUALITY ~ SHARED LIGHT

Transom over Dining Room Doors Church Family Dwelling House Hancock, Massachusetts

TRANSOM WINDOW

Transom windows, frequently placed by Shakers above inner as well as outer doors, provide a means to increase the light shared between neighboring rooms, and maintain this flow even when doors are fully closed. Interior transoms are typically set over doors connecting dark corridors and well-lit perimeter rooms, and take shapes ranging from multi-paned rectangles to arched or semicircular fanlights.

Fanlight between Kitchen and Dining Room Center Family Dwelling House Pleasant Hill, Kentucky

Arched Transom over Infirmary Door Center Family Dwelling House Pleasant Hill, Kentucky

INTERIOR WINDOW

The stretching of light, and the open feeling, afforded by an interior window are especially impressive when able to transform an utterly mundane space, such as a back stair or closet. An ingenious device to siphon daylight deeply into a building, this glazed opening serves also to share illumination between rooms demanding acoustic separation, so as to spread light in a peaceful way, free of disrupting noise.

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5: Time ~ Cyclic Light

Henry Plummer Indiana University Press ePub

5

TIME ~ CYCLIC LIGHT

Ministry Hall Meetinghouse Pleasant Hill, Kentucky

SHADOW PLAY ON LIMESTONE

Pleasant Hill's limestone dwellings are extremely responsive to shifting skies. Displayed upon their white volumes are all of the sun's refracted colors, including faint hues often missed by the human eye. With its walls aligned to the cardinal points, each building behaves as a gnomon, registering and showing the flow of shade from plane to plane, as well as at the microscale of masonry texture, produced on the Center dwelling by raised white mortar.

Grazing Sun on East Façade at Noon Center Family Dwelling House Pleasant Hill, Kentucky

View from Southeast at Dawn Center Family Dwelling House Pleasant Hill, Kentucky

SPECTRAL COLORS

The absolute white of a Shaker meetinghouse, as prescribed by the Millennial Laws, gave each village a spiritual center of maximum purity and radiance. But maximized also on the plain and highly reflective clapboards was a visibility of each passing moment, and each new emanation of sun. Melting the sky into walls are delicate tones of colored light, ranging from the soft grays of overcast weather and starched whites of clear days, to the transparent yellows and violets arriving early and late, and deeper blues and oranges of twilight.

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2: Order ~ Focused Light

Henry Plummer Indiana University Press ePub

2

ORDER ~ FOCUSED LIGHT

Window above Stair to Roof Center Family Dwelling House Pleasant Hill, Kentucky

MESMERIZING WINDOW

The Shaker striving for order and calm gave a prominent visual role to the window, which often appears as the seminal force around which a room is developed. This centering power is magnified by simple geometry, symmetric placement, empty walls, and a halo-like frame, which are all further strengthened by a radiating pattern of light from a still source.

Ministry Hall Meetinghouse (1794) Sabbathday Lake, Maine

Window Triptych Center Family Dwelling House (1822–33) South Union, Kentucky

Window Diptych Center Family Dwelling House Pleasant Hill, Kentucky

Meetingroom Church Family Dwelling House Hancock, Massachusetts

INCANTATION

The repetition of standardized elements in Shaker architecture served basic needs of economy and order, while ensuring anonymity and plainness, but also gave to every room a calming rhythm that served the spirit. This reverberation, suggestive of the rise and fall of a fugue or chant, is especially pronounced in the Shaker meetinghouse, whose windows shed a mesmerizing pulse of energy. Alternating rays of light echo into broad stripes of white plaster, divided by lines of blue paint on wooden beams, knee braces, and peg rails. As a result, tremulous patterns of light and dark envelop the entire worship space, and its sacred dance, in a visual incantation, whose simple waves could instantly soothe mind and soul, and invoke a faintly mystical spell.

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Medium 9780253353627

3: Luminosity ~ Inner Light

Henry Plummer Indiana University Press ePub

3

LUMINOSITY ~ INNER LIGHT

Corner of Attic Center Family Dwelling House South Union, Kentucky

MAXIMUM FENESTRATION

In their efforts to squeeze as much daylight as possible into buildings, Shakers pierced the outer walls with closely spaced windows, allowing illumination to stream in from every side. As the most sacred place in the Shaker settlement, and the nearest thing to heaven on earth, the meetinghouse was made especially airy and bright by a continuous band of repeating windows. But rendered almost as porous, and at times cathedral-like, were utilitarian buildings such as laundries and machine shops, tanneries and poultry houses, mills and barns.

Circles of Windows on Tree Different Levels Round Barn (1826, rebuilt 1865) Hancock, Massachusetts

Meetingroom Windows Meetinghouse (1792–93, moved from Shirley to Hancock 1962) Hancock, Massachusetts

INTERIOR SHUTTERS

The internal shutters with which windows are equipped at Canterbury and Enfield permit a range of lighting adjustments. At Enfield's dwelling house, a four-shutter system allows each panel to be operated independently, or in combination with others, so that light can be regulated at will, like a camera aperture, according to weather, temperature, and human activity. When the shutters are opened, they fold back and disappear into window reveals.

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