Hejduksketch15John Hejduk, sketch for ‘Victims’, 1986

AA Archives: John Hejduk ‘Victims’ Drawings

Freshly unearthed from within the AA Archives are an almost complete set of drawings for the John Hejduk publication and exhibition ‘Victims’, held at the AA from 24 September to 25 October 1986.

The drawings, currently being catalogued, consist of a 25 beautiful original sketches by Hejduk, together with a series of 51 pen and ink drawings redrawn for the exhibition by AA student, Nicholas Boyarsky, in the summer of 1986.

Victims was a project designed by John Hejduk for Berlin, described as ‘a construction of time’. The site was former Gestapo headquarters that had contained a torture chamber during WWII. The site contained 67 structures, to be built over two thirty-year periods. Visitors to the site could enter the site over a drawbridge into a hedge-enclosed site, entering through the gate-house or take the trolley which circulates round the edge of the site.  Part of the site included a grid of evergreen saplings which would grow to eventually be higher than the structures, indicating time passing. Some of the structures including a dual clock turntable, pendulum and a cantilevered hour glass symbolise time. ‘The concept is that the structures can be in a time sequence similar to the trees and to the Citizens’ (Introduction, Victims catalogue, unpaginated). Each named structure can be contacted at three points ‘a sort of pointal-connective tissue floating within a nature-grid’ (Introduction, Victims catalogue, unpaginated).

Hejduk32John Hejduk / Nicholas Boyarsky ‘Watch Repairman’, 1986

The 67 structures were named; each name signified the role of the individual objects of the project  eg. horticulturalist, gardener, drawbridge man, physician, children, researcher, judge; objects include picnic table, watch shop; there are concepts too such as the exiles, the disappeared, the application. The eponyms referred to by a generic word such as trolley, acts as links in the tissue, which Bunschoten refers to as ‘a quasi-organic tissue’ (page 73). Many of the objects have semantic fields, which Hejduk uses as in a collage.

The exhibition and publication were accompanied by the construction of a monument ‘The collapse of Time’ in Bedford Square in 1986 (see film and photographs in AA Photo Library).

Hejduk24John Hejduk / Nicholas Boyarsky ‘Poet’, 1986