Groundbreaking ceremonies are a lot like burials. Contractors, developers, and mourners alike gather at the edge of a shallow depression in the ground and ambivalently toss soil. What this cyclical filiation suggests is that destruction begets construction. In the case of cities, demolition and displacement open space to begin building anew. Municipal authorities and their consultants have typically followed this dictum without hesitation, carving up and laying to waste whole neighborhoods for the sake of efficiency and control.
According to the Western tradition it is at this moment, coupled with rapid industrialization, that artists, writers, and poets are said to have faced modernity. If construction then, as in Baron Haussmann’s renovation of Paris, was met with terror, revulsion, and awe, artists remain equally if not more perplexed with construction and the art worlds it imbricates.