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Comatose and Ricorso: An Ecclesial Exploration

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9:00 AM, Thursday 26 May 2022 (20 minutes)

This thesis is based on an examination of abandoned church buildings in Saskatchewan that were built during the second wave of immigration to that province. It proceeds with an inquiry into their architectural purpose at a time when they are no longer in use, and examines the meaning of these places as ruins, as mnemonic devices for contemporary man, and as a reminder of loss.

Eighteenth century thinker Gianbattista Vico’s theory of the “cycle of history” serves as a structuring theory for this investigation. This is a three-part and repetitive cycle beginning with a unified mystical age, followed by an age of consciousness, and culminating with an age of polarization of body and mind, a cosmological fragmentation.

The thesis weaves descriptive and poetic narratives together as a way of resolving the topic’s complex ontology - matter not only as a matter but also as memory and spirit. Part One of the thesis introduces Vico’s theoretical cycle in terms of allegories and stories. Part Two looks into a critical understanding of the motivations and ramifications of restoration and preservation practice. Part Three provides descriptive documentary material pertaining to the sacred structures. Finally, a contemporary project is proposed that provides an architectural answer to the thesis’ questions and provides insights into the validity or impracticality of the theories of restoration and preservation.

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