Things in the landscape (of a palace that never was)

October 1, 2014


On a spot in the north part of Hagaparken, a ruin is situated. The ruin is fairly hidden in the forest and you have to follow one of the paths to reach it.

The site can be described as consisting of

  • constructed landscape (the landscape park is largely constructed, even british grass was imported)

  • ruin remnants consisting of stonewalls, stone vaults etc.

  • soil and plants as parts of the nature which have superimposed the ruin

In trying to understand the site, the ruin can be read as stones acting as objects assembled with landscape elements which, as a constructed such, also can be looked upon in an object-like manner. These objects become agents in a greater system. As the word “object” may imply an assumed objectivity, the parts in this understanding are just parts. While adopting a more contextual reading the objects become something more, a ruin with its connotations, namely things carrying meaning to the whole. The wider understanding also start to imply the notion of what the ruin is a translation from. The reading of the stones has now shifted and in a way the objects recall the technological act of shaping them (basically using tools to cut them) into (some)thing.

According to Elizabeth Grosz’s text “The Thing” (Architecture from the Outside) “the thing has a history: it is not simply a passive inertia against which we measure our own activity”(Grosz, s.168). Further, and referring to different thinkers, the thing can be understood as a question, a provocation or an incitement. As a partially overgrown ruin the (over all) landscape of the ruin of Haga recalls an imagined memory of something that once existed on the site. A visitor of today could easily let the mind get carried away in thoughts of ”what it looked like”, ”who used it” and so on. In that sense, the provocation of the site’s physical condition, is manifested and appeals to the assumed story. But in contrast to most ruins we know of, this particular ruin isn’t a memory of what once existed on the site. Instead it’s a memory of what was once supposed to become, namely the ”Pleasure palace” of Gustav III. The built structure on site is the foundation of a palace, a building process which ended abruptly when the king was assassinated on a masquerade party.

Grosz argues that the above mentioned provocation of the thing also functions as a promise which in the future retrospect gives a destination or effect. In the wider reading, where the parts of the ruin are becoming (some)thing, also the assumed further development of the ruin is becoming (some)thing by adopted geometries, or the lack of them, implied by voids in the ruin formation. The thing is now the unknown and imagined context of which the ruin landscape connotes is therefor not only a fictional reality in the mind of the beholder. It is a fictional reality regarding a proposed (but never completed) reality. The fiction is created in several stages as a fiction of a fiction, an assumption of the kings pleasure filled dreams.

/Anna Weglin Elenius

One Response to “Things in the landscape (of a palace that never was)”

  1. lovisawallgren Says:

    Nice text, interesting journey how you start to look at the stones of the ruin as objects, then they turn into things and then things of memory or future fiction. /Lovisa Wallgren

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