What precedes architecture? Architect-artist Małgorzata Maria Olchowska explores how personal and collective memories influence our view of the built environment. At the invitation of the Flanders Architecture Institute, she engages in dialogue with the collection of the Red Star Line Museum. For Olchowska, the houses, streets and squares of our cities have different layers of meaning. You see not only the structures themselves but also the past and even the future. But the way we view these places changes a lot over time and often depends on social current affairs.
The Red Star Line Museum is housed in a building where the memory of migration is made tangible through a museum route, the development of a heritage collection and an ongoing exchange with the public as well as with witnesses and donors. Olchowska ignores this delineated and explicit interaction with the past to focus on the purely material layers. Her work expresses the idea that all the layers that were once there can be brought back to life.
Olchowska seeks to connect with places where the history of the Red Star Line buildings is most tangible. In the large shed, where customs stored the Red Star Line cargo, you will discover many artworks that interact with the museum collection. Photos and postcards, taken or sent by emigrants, strikingly resemble the artist’s prints of constructed landscapes. Depending on their own memories, each viewer recognizes different elements in these landscapes. The sculpture of Saïf Lama’a (aka Dumuzi), who had to flee Syria when ISIS emerged in 2015, enters into dialogue with the black-and-white photographs of ships and the exhibition scenography. The film I am not going to cry shows luggage or cargo in the form of building elements. They symbolize the endless tearing down and rebuilding of European cities.
In addition to this presentation, you can also discover different model-sculptures in our permanent exhibition. The models stimulate your imagination where the history of the building is most present.