The “Absence into Presence” exhibition was presented by the Parsons School of Design in September 2003 in honor of Kristin Rita Strouse.
"Absence into Presence" was inspired by the life and memory of Kristen Strouse, who was a student at the Parsons School of Design in 2001. When asked by the Strouse family to devise a memorial for Kristen, Parsons felt that the best way to remember a talented and promising young woman would be to showcase some of the wealth of creativity that has been devoted to rememberance. We hope that this exhibition honors Kristen's life, and offers something of lasting benefit to students and to the public.
"Absence Into Presence" examines the multitude of ways in which men and women throughout history have struggled to remember people, events and even ideas through the media of art, architecture and design, The exhibition considers the range of aesthetic, cultural and political issues that affect and arise from the process of rememberance, and explores a wide variety of memorial and monumental structures and artworks, from a range of cultures around the world.
In images by Walker Evans, William Eggleston, Nadar and other distinquished photographers, the exhibition presents some of the enduring milestones of rememberance as well as lesser known but no less compelling works. It explores the difficulty of memorializing an event as complex and unfathomable as the Holocaust, through projects that include Daniel Libeskind's Jewish Museum Berlin, Rachel Whitereads's Judenplatz memorial, the Anne Frank House and Karin Daan's Homomonument, The show looks as well at how the great architects Carlo Scarpa and Aldo Rossi used the funerary genre to expand and enrich their own work and the vocabulary of modern architecture.
In addition, "Absence Into Presence" will feature works of personal rememberance, including photographer Carla Shapiro's struggle to come to terms, not only with the devastation of 9/11, but with the inevitability of forgetting; Ken Aptekar's consideration of his own idenity through the prism of his grandmother's imaginary past; and video artist Linda Montano's gripping account of her husbands death. The exhibition also presents new and recent projects, by British architect David Chipperfield, Spain's Cesar Portela, the Dutch firm Mecanoo, sculptor Brian Tolle, and New York's Architecture Research Office.
"I am struck by the extraordinary variety, the level of inspiration and the beatuy of the work on display", said exhibition curator Marc Kristal. "Some of these things are primitive, others exceptionally sophisticated, some are even playful. But they're all expressions of one of the profoundest of human desires - to hold onto what matters, to never forget. You can feel the power and the timelessness of that impulse in everything in the show, whether it is something as simple as a Sirige Mask in Mali or as grand as the Taj Mahal."