Author: Federico Lacasia

The Safety Net on the Ivory Tower: A Visual Essay

Studio: ARCH 4002 – History of Canadian Architecture

Professors: Émelie Descrochers-Turgeon and Jorge Rivera Gutierrez

Year: Winter 2021

Project Description

The main assigned essay of the course, was one which explored the preferential treatment heritage architecture receives through wealth. Following the essay, the visual essay video is an abstract film showing the “self-realization” of an oppressor, only for them to return to their denial. This was done by showing a dizzying, oversaturated descent from the peak of Westmount, Quebec a wealthy suburb inside Montreal. The narrator ( voiced by Daniel Johnston) recognizes the evil in his environment, the evil in his friendships, and the evil within himself. Once this internal evil becomes clear, the narrator attempts to divorce himself from it by shaving his head and chopping off a metaphorical part of himself. The path downward is contrasted by the narrator being at the top of a hill. Looking downwards, (now voiced by Leonard Cohen, a Westmount citizen) he expresses that if only he had more privilege, he would sacrifice himself to save the world. As a Westmount resident analyzing the details of the city’s history, I continue to be reminded of the shoulders I stand on. While denial is a more comfortable state of being, I seek out discomfort by acknowledging my role as an oppressor, in order to recognize my power to change.