Trading, Tracing, and Telling Stories:
The Alchemies of Exchange
Dam square at Rodkin, Amsterdam, NL

210505 Site Plan Venice March 28 2021 in

Trading, Tracing, and Telling Stories:
The Alchemies of Exchange
Dam square at Rodkin, Amsterdam, NL

Catherine Venart

w. Celina Abba, Alice Bardos, Paulette Cameron, Sarah Reid, and Sarah Yoes

Dalhousie university

The project, an inhabited Monument to the Alchemies of Exchange, situates exchange as a fundamental transformational act, embedded in constructive processes foundational to the existential essence of the Netherlands. It uses an expanded notion of the palimpsest to trace the alchemic processes of the deep surface.1 The monument2 situated in Amsterdam at the origin of the city, symbolically positioning ‘rite and myth’3 against claims of ownership connected to the history of power. Its architecture -- an alchemic frame of time and space -- acknowledges this original theft4and resurfaces, interprets and activates storied matter5 as alchemic processes, both physically and psychologically. It positions us between the global and individual consciousness, concentrating and reflecting light in shadow. It marks out time and creates parallax between elements, illuminating and holding in the balance -- symbols of erasure -- through a relational turning of perceptions upside-down and inside-out.

At the end, a question remains: What has this wrought? Is devastation in environmental terms, exploitations of resources and the degradation of fellow human beings worth it?