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GILI MERIN

About our Guest:

Gili Merin is an architect, photographer, and PhD Candidate at the AA in London. She studied in Jerusalem, Tokyo, Berlin and London, and trained as a researcher and architect at OMA Rotterdam and Kuehn Malvezzi in Berlin. Alongside directors Bêka & Lemoine, she teaches Diploma16 at the AA, focusing on film as an architectural tool and on field-observations as a design methodology.
Her research explores the ritual of sacred travel, the commodification of heritage, the politics of collective memory and the fabrication of sacred landscapes. Her practice includes writings, reportages, and critical photo-essays. Her work is also featured on the project
Le Biennali Invisibili.

Image credit: ©

Gili Merin

About the text:

In 1967, land-artist Robert Smithson embarked on a journey in his hometown around the Passaic River in New Jersey. Meandering between ruins of a post-industrial landscape, he takes quick snapshots and copies the text printed over construction sites: a banal assembly of visual representations, that are later edited and assembled into a piece in ArtForum entitled
A Tour of the Monuments of Passaic (1967). In his title, captions, and text, Smithson describes these underwhelming elements (the pipe, the bridge, sewage) as monuments, transforming the mundanity of his journey into a pilgrimage, albeit a secular one.


Smithson’s Tour reclaims not only the idea of travel but also the revolutionary use of words and images, reintroducing Walter Benjamin’s claim that the caption is “destined to become the essential component of the shot” (1931). Smithson’s work resists the commodification of photography, bringing it from the gallery wall to the pages of a book. The discussion will revolve around this question: should an image reveal its own mechanism of production, or can it be an end in itself?

Image credit: ©

Gili Merin

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Image credit: ©

Gili Merin

You can watch the discussion here:

Discussion date: Thursday 17th December, 2020.

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