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We can’t rebuild a monument. Reflexions after the fire of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris

By April 16, 2019No Comments

It’s been 12 years I live in Paris and I’ve never entered Notre-Dame. For many years, I even stayed two blocks away, I walked in front of her, I would stop a little, stare at her and then continue my way. When I visit a city abroad for some conference or another reason I try to visit the most important monuments. But Notre=Dame was for me, as for many other people I guess, like the Parthenon: a monument that had always been there, marking a city, a place, a passage and waiting – with enormous patience – for us to fell like visiting it.

Yesterday, I was looking at the news online, on the TV, on Twitter – the images of the burning Notre-Dame.

Shocked, it was difficult for me to say anything. The chatting I saw didn’t calm down the shock.

Monument restoration has been among the diverse research fields I’ve been studying in the past. During my last visit at the National Technical University of Athens I had the chance to collaborate with Prof. Tonia Moropoulou, who has an immense experience on the field, thus participating in some scientific conference of this large topic. I found monument restoration fascinating and our collaboration aimed at the modelling of compatible managerial approaches as well as corresponding business models.

Monument monument restoration constitutes an ultimate interdisciplinary activity, putting in action an heterogenous set of sciences and fields of expertise around a monument which always remains singular. The work of monument restoration is a work in and on time, aiming at maintaining, removing or contextualising the traces of history and nature on the monument.

Thus, I was astonished yesterday when I listened to the Vatican representative at UNESCO affirming in real time that the decision was take to reconstruct Notre-Dame.

We can’t reconstruct a monument. Greeks believed – and some still do – on divine signals. Apart from the possible divine forms, we shouldn’t be blind when facing signals that transcend us. This historic tragedy should question. Of course, the restoration of Notre-Dame can’t but begin. At first, decreeing mourning could have been more appropriate, however.