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Unpacking Hermia


Mara Trübenbach

This object will be presented at the TACK Conference in the object session SITE, 20 June 2023 between 09:30 – 11:15 (CEST) at ETH Zürich (Auditorium HPV G5).

While we know little about the transport, we do know that the steam cargo ship SS Hermia, a Hamburg-London Line ship of the Flensburger Schiffsbau-Gesellschaft, launched in 1910, transported Warburg’s library, including furniture, from Hamburg to London by way of two voyages in December 1933 (Abert, 2002). During this time, the ship was owned by HAPAG and was bought in 1934 by Adolph Kirsten & Co., which had operated the HH-LDN line from 1910 until 1928. In 1940, Hermia became a hospital ship for the German Navy, was renamed Adriana, and sunk by a British air mine on the Elbe River near Flensburg in December of that year (Kuldas, 2009: 196).

In 1943, philosopher Hannah Arendt described the state of migration as follows: “Our identity is changed so frequently that nobody can find out who we actually are” (Kohn and Feldman, 2007: 270). It is the idea of change and the fact of constant departure that I want to experience through material. The process of model-making is not about representing the truth, but about creating a vehicle for the library, which was transported from the port city Hamburg to the British capital. The performative potential of a model, which come to the fore in the employment a layered way, building on the scale of materiality, the scale of form, etc. participate in a performative act. The complexity of performative capacities has the ability not only to construct realities, but also to shed light on what kind of history is being produced and presented through the re-enactment of archival material.

Mara Trübenbach is an architectural designer and scholar. She holds a MSc Architecture from Bauhaus-University and is doing her PhD at AHO (Oslo). She is part of the TACK network and is strongly interested in the intersection of craft, material and alternative design methods in architecture such as performance and theatre studies.