The Tower Block - post mortem The tower block - post mortem. Click the windows for memories

The Tower Block – post mortem

In 2011 the old city hospital in Trondheim - a gigantic 12 store tower block - was demolished, giving space for a new modern hospital. With it, an emotional land mark in the city has disappeared, as this tower block was the location of memories of birth, death, crisis and healing for a lot of people in Trondheim. We collected many of these memories through a memory blog. This blog founded the basis for the production of a performance, or rather a ritual, serving as a funeral for the Tower block, held in the midst of its ruins.

In the blue block above you will find samples from the project:

  • In the left wing: samples from the memory blog.
  • In the right wing: samples from the performance.
  • In the central wing: samples from the production process.

The project started early in 2010, first collecting memories from the Tower block while it was still in use. In May 2010, the last patients moved out of the block and the building was left to the demolition team. At this time we opened the memory blog. By choosing the Norwegian option at www.hoyblokka .no you will find the original blog. The blog is made up of memories sent in by all kinds of people in Trondheim. You will also find some memories we have collected by conducting interviews. There are memories in the form of text, pictures, film. Some memories are also presented in more experimental ways, using the concepts of soundscapes, landscapes and handscapes.

During fall 2010 we started the production of the performance that was going to be the official funeral for the Tower block. In many ways, the memory blog became the site where the performance actually took shape. We transformed memories and artistic expressions that emerged on the blog into a performance. This was held in the middle of the demolition site January 30th, 2011. Despite the cold weather more than one thousand citizens gathered at the ruins to take part in the ritual.

The Tower block – post mortem is also an interdisciplinary art based research project located at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Some of the research topics are:

The nature of memories and remembering: What role do place and emptiness play in wakening the presence of things gone? In what way does the technology that mediates memory contribute in shaping the content of the memories? More specifically, what role do the writing of memories at the blog and the performance play for the memories of the Tower block? For more about memories and ruins, see the site Ruin memories.

Performance studies: What can we learn about performance from a project where the performance is the actual burying of a hospital building? This question is calling us to explore the boarders between site specific performance and ritual.

The nature of the interactive media event: We explore the nature of the creative process and role of the memory blog, starting with us sharing our memories on the blog, causing other people to share their memories, which aging inspires us to shape to the performance. This shape where constantly modified in interaction with people active on the blog. In the performance the memories where finally given back in artistic form and shared. Thus, the blog, the talk among people, the emerging consciousness of the disappearing landmark and the work with the performance, all took shape in the same system, a sort of auto-poetic feedback loop. At its horizon, the actual demolition process constantly moved towards the inevitable destruction of the old Tower block.

Barbro Rønning: idea, concept, director, producer, research
Håkon Fyhn: design, writing, research, stage master
Andreas Bergsland: music, sound, research
Kari Veiteberg. concept, research, performer
Andreas Schille: visual art, video
Ragnhild Aslaksen: coordination, visual consultant