Preservation, Demolition, Destruction, Decay and Death

Photographs used for educational and non-commercial purposes only.


This is a new thread of investigation – In what ways does “preservation” help us avoid death?  How does the purity of our preservation efforts directly reflect personal feelings of loss?  Our world is in a continuous process of demolition (Pruitt Igo Housing demolition), destruction (ISIS museum aggression), decay (Willard Hospital suitcases) and death (Funeral for a House – Temple University).  I gave a presentation to the Greater Philadelphia Museum Council in which I outlined the basic concept of how I see death being a foundational element in our stewardship of cultural sites.  I admit, it was an odd and at times disturbing glimpse into this, mostly unrealized, component to historic preservation.

The acknowledgment of disintegration as an accepted and anticipated process is, in fact, a form of preservation.  How? It becomes preservation of the concept of life by accepting death (and the process of decay), rather than the in-authentic preservation of the physicality  and “object-ness” of life.


Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 11.14.36 AM

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 11.15.40 AM  Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 11.16.13 AM

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 11.16.00 AM   Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 11.15.49 AM


Screen Shot 2015-08-29 at 12.47.03 PM


azuma makoto represents the stages of decomposition using flowers and leaves
all images courtesy of azuma makoto Photographs used for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

In japanese art, the ancient kusozu style refers to a specific series of watercolor paintings that graphically illustrate the various stages of human decomposition just before, and after, death. these works of art, inspired by buddhist beliefs, intended to stimulate thinking about the ephemeral nature of the physical world.


Material Speculation” is a digital fabrication and 3D printing project by Morehshin Allahyari that inspects Petropolitical and poetic relationships between 3D Printing, Plastic, Oil, Technocapitalism and Jihad. Photographs used for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

The first series “Material Speculation: ISIS” is an in progress 3D modeling and 3D printing project focused on the reconstruction of selected (original) artifacts (statues from the Roman period city of Hatra and Assyrian artifacts from Nineveh) that were destroyed by ISIS in 2015.   “Material Speculation: ISIS” creates a practical and political possibility for artifact archival, while also proposing 3D printing technology as a tool both for resistance and documentation. It intends to use 3D printing as a process for repairing history and memory.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s