This paper will discuss my exploration of the multiple nature of places in Western culture(s) in the 2020 artwork 'We went to school here'.(1) I used this work to draw on the gallery floor the footprint of the school building that previously occupied that same place, so that ex-school students could bring together their remembered images of it with the actual place in which it existed. It proposed that both the gallery and the school could briefly co-exist both visibly and actually: the gallery visible in the normal way to sighted people who actually entered it, and the school visible to those actually entering that same space but with remembered images of when they occupied it as a school.
It will also discuss its optimistic proposal of a conjunction of remembered image and actual place as one way of challenging modernity’s devaluation of place (the latter discussed using accounts by writers as apparently diverse as Jane Bennett and Anthony Giddens).It intends to remind people that places have histories, even if, in the absence of traditional personal recognition, the location of earlier occupations sometimes needs to be confirmed with modern technical data, as is the case with this work. Most importantly, in having histories, places become more than their present occupation.
The paper will also discuss the role of explanatory text that accompanies artwork such as this, because, despite occupying the whole gallery, the work itself is like its intended content in being invisible to most visitors.