Palace of Versailles

1669-85 Palace of Versailles
1885 Herrenchiemsee
1920 Whitemarch Hall

2001.10.08 10:23
Re: reenactment and its [un]limits
The theory of reenactment is foremost a theory of history, specifically a theory of history espoused by Collingwood. I see relating this theory to architectural design more as ascribing a name to a practice within architecture design that continually [re]occurs, albeit a practice heretofore (conveniently?) unrecognized.
In all my writing on reenactment so far, I have never made the suggestion or issued a dictum whereby architects should design with reenactment in mind. My objective is to demonstrate how reenactment already works with many cases of design methodology.
Perhaps now I can answer your question. Taking the example of Ludwig II of Bavaria's palace Herrenchiemsee as a prime example of reenactionary architecture (a real reenactment of the Palace of Versailles), we have here a building that was built to be a royal palace, but was never actually lived in by any royals, and is now-a-days a prime tourist attraction within Bavaria--surely a building that manifests "permeable socially constructed use-value". This building is today largely considered kitsch by the architectural/aesthetic community, yet the quality of the craftsmanship within the building is of the highest standard. My guess is that the building is considered kitsch simply because it is not an 'original'. Yet the case can be made that Herrencheimsee is quite an original reenactment!
Like Ludwig II's other castles, Herrencheimsee was paid for by Ludwig himself (i.e., privy purse), and not by the Bavarian state treasury. Furthermore, the castles and palaces were built during the time of the Franco-Prussian War, a largely Prussian/Bismarkian objective which Bavarian Ludwig did not support--rather than send his subjects to war and probable death, Ludwig employed his people at home instead, particularly Bavaria's creative/artistic citizenry. What Ludwig indeed did was to spread his own wealth* into the Bavarian economy via fantastic building programs, buildings, moreover, that today still generate much 'wealth' for the Bavarian people. Was Ludwig II actually a very wise king rather than a mad king?
So, to answer your question, reenactionary architecture can indeed remain reenactionary overtime and throughout changes in use. What Herrencheimsee continues to reenact is Ludwig II's 'mad' fiscal generosity toward his realm. And in the case of Ludwig II's castle Neuschwanstein (which reenacts royal Germanic architecture from the days of Medieval knighthood), it is worth noting that it has become the foremost icon of contemporary tourism, both figuratively in travel posters, and 'literally' via its reenactments at all the Disney Lands.
Perhaps a better question is: why is it that reenactionary architecture is extremely capable of generating 'wealth' for those that build it?
* The Wittelsbach's were among the wealthiest royals in Europe, and, to this day, the Wittelsbach Royal Treasury within the Residenz in Munich, i.e., crowns, jewels and such, is still the most valuable in Europe.

2005.03.04 12:01
Re: Versailles, sigh
"Here a Versailles, There a Versailles, Everywhere a Versailles, Sigh" ends. The point of this virtual conference paper mostly about 'reenactionary architecturism' inversely culminates with an oblivion engendered via erasure (damnatio memoriae) with ultimate palimpsest.




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