An Ageless Present: Malik Aksel on Restoration

Eyüp Sultan Camii, April 2012
From a Malik Aksel essay originally published in 1956, a wonderful quote about restoration –– particularly as I think it was practiced in the 1950s:
However when old works are being repaired, it's necessary to show the traces of the years which have passed upon them. If a 2000-year old monument is brought to a sparkling state with whitewash, does its historical value endure? (From Sanat ve Folklor, p. 264)
To be sure, the kinds of restoration projects that are undertaken in the present moment are not simply whitewash jobs; but I think Aksel is pointing to a larger issue, the ways in which historical value is derived in part from showing the passage of time, rather than pretending it never existed. There's something curious about the range of restoration being undertaken in the present moment in Istanbul –– restoration projects which deny (through their overwhelming thoroughness) the passage of time. A kind of ageless present.


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