‘Tis the wind and nothing more

SA-EP-webA permanently installed memorial to Edgar Allan Poe consists of a small, freestanding triangular glass pavilion in Poe Square, adjacent to the Boston Common. The project is comprised of an almost spectral structure of steel fins above a distorted slump glass façade that faces onto Charles Street. The corrugations of the glass are both structural and provide shelving for the display of objects. The interior of the kiosk contains a collection of Edgar Allan Poe related items on exhibition and for sale. In the absence of an historical building related to Poe’s time in Boston, the sculpture is intended to function as a cenotaph meets “gift shop,” as a Wonderkammer, and as an interpretive center or place-maker for a schedule of gatherings, meetings and activities related to the fraught relationship between Poe and his hometown of Boston. As a central figure in the creation of an American popular culture, the memorial to Poe actively engages in the economy of desire and consumption.

The visitor becomes a performative element in the work: a voyeur, a consumer of Poe’s legacy, and part of an extended concept of sculpture. Rather than a static representation, the pavilion will become a living memorial to the memory of Poe’s non-conformist life. Like the interpretations of Poe’s writing, the public artwork is designed to evolve in use and change in contents over time, both throughout the day and over the years, adapting to future relationships between Poe’s legacy and Boston. The project is participatory and rejects the representation of a figurative monument.

Corrugations in the glass façade are both structural as well as provide shelves for display. Surrounded with landscaping on the exterior, the interior of the kiosk contains a collection of Edgar Allan Poe related items on exhibition and for sale.

In the absence of an historical building related to Poe’s time in Boston, the sculpture is intended to function as a cenotaph meets “gift shop,” as a Wonderkammer, and as an interpretive center or place-maker for a schedule of gatherings, meetings, and activities related to the fraught relationship between Poe and his hometown of Boston.

Both a vitrine and void, it is a shelter for travelers, a reliquary, or a functioning gift shop. In ‘Tis the wind…, the visitor becomes a performative element in the work: a voyeur, a consumer of Poe’s legacy, and part of an extended concept of sculpture. Rather than a static representation, the pavilion will become a living memorial to the memory of Poe’s non-conformist life and the ongoing history of his impact upon English letters and arts. Like the interpretations of Poe’s writing, the public artwork is designed to evolve in use and change in contents over time, both throughout the day and over the years, adapting to future… relationships between Poe’s legacy and Boston.

collaborative art practice employs themes relating to the history and evolution of spaces and meanings, consistently questioning and investigating traditional patterns of perception, methods of engagement, and modes of practice.

Central to the project is the slump glass façade, with its multivalent potential meanings. Possibly it is the curtain of the Boston stage upon which his birth parents performed. Or the precariousness of the glass structure echoes the self-destruction of madness found in Poe’s own writing. Maybe it refers to the distortion in Poe’s writing, in which crystal-clear images of society become unexpectedly grotesque. Or possibly it is “the veil of the mist” through which the senses perceive, or due to the distortions of an opiate haze.

Bonner and Stayner’s artwork memorializes Poe not based on his physical likeness, but for the importance of his works, his ongoing significance to American society, and the fundamental themes he addressed. With its commercially focused display,

Bonner / Stayner
Studio Bonner, Atlanta
Stayner Architects, Los Angeles

Project Project
Location Boston Common, Boston, Massachusetts US
Client City of Boston