Plaster archaeology entails the deep mapping of architectural façades by way of foregrounding materiality as an indicator of social, political, and natural transformation. Rather than taking the preservation and restoration of architectural heritage as its ultimate goal, plaster archaeology focuses on deterioration and erosion as central to what Eyal Weizman calls the “structural pathology” of buildings. Mapping a building’s structural pathology requires the recognition of unintended transformations as a continuation of the building’s construction. With its layered plaster façades, the city of Budapest offers plenty of sites for the practice of plaster archaeology. In this presentation I will focus on a particular case study in the city’s seventh district to demonstrate the process of deep mapping and the potential of material rhetoric in the realm of heritage studies.
László Munteán is Assistant Professor of Cultural Studies and American Studies at Radboud University Nijmegen. His work deals with intersections of cultural memory, visual culture, and the built environment. His publications have focused on the memorialization of 9/11 in literature and the visual arts, American cities and architecture, rephotography, as well as the memorialization of the allied bombing of Budapest in World War II. At Radboud University he is leader of the research group “Memory, Materiality and Meaning in the Age of Transnationalism.”