An artistic project of making archival research visible

Acrylic on Canvas by Sonal Mithal

A palimpsest is a parchment or the like from which writing has been partially or completely erased to make room for another text. In architecture discourse, the word is often used to describe layers of historical interventions on a site, whether in terms of use or design. Whenever spaces are rebuilt or redesigned, evidences of former uses remain.

While making a design intervention for a historical site, revealing the site’s palimpsest-ic quality is one of the basic agendas of my recent research-based design approach. Simply put, it means to design a historical site in such a manner that its various layers are revealed to the visitor in an experiential way. The visitor may not experience all the layers at once, maybe he/she experiences a glimpse of it at some place, another glimpse of another layer somewhere else, or many layers condensed into an in-comprehensive jumble somewhere else.

These illustrations in acrylic on canvas are created by emulating the processes that make a palimpsest by stacking images of maps, historical photos, text, and newspaper cuttings. The site chosen for this project is Hazratganj, Lucknow.