The Destruction of Memory, A Documentary

A new film based on the work of Robert Bevan captures ISIS's attempts to erase the built history of the Middle East.

“Part of war and conflict has always been the collateral damage. Buildings have fallen in the path of military objectives, but, […] in this war, buildings aren’t destroyed because they’re in the way of a target. The buildings are the target.” As the narrator of The Destruction of Memory so eloquently explains, the destruction of culture–of buildings, books, and art–is often not an accidental consequence of conflict. As we can see by the actions of ISIS in Iraq and Syria today, the destruction of cultural artifacts is part and parcel of a conscientious strategy to target and destroy the collective memory, history, and identity of a people.

“One of the ways to get rid of history is by remov[ing] all the physical traces of history,” Daniel Libeskind, the architect of the Jewish Museum Berlin, explains in the film. “[To] make believe that nothing ever happened, nothing was ever there.”

The new documentary, based off the 2006 book of the same name, by architecture critic Robert Bevan, offers stories of resistance, protection, and rebuilding. Most importantly, it asks the viewer a vital question of our times: “How can we stem its path and save the story of who we are?”

The Destruction of Memory Pre-Release Trailer from Vast Productions on Vimeo.

For those in New York, The Destruction of Memory will be screened at the Center for Architecture on April 5th.

Categories: Arts + Culture, Preservation

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