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SANTOZEUM / Island  / A house with a view

A house with a view

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On the April fool’s day past, already five months into the Santozeum project, the earthquake in Japan reverberated along a system of underwater tremors through Crete to Santorini.  The cliff top moved for a minute, the chandelier swung, we were frozen and connected, aware of the moment, of the lack of exits and safety standing on top, looking at the culprit who last erupted in 1950.  We drove to the center of the island, to a village still scarred and dismembered from the 1950 fallout.  The fog fell and the village animals were out of sorts.

I had been coming to the island for years and wandering through the fog.  But it was only since October that we decided to restore the Santozeum building – a composite of buildings linked with tunnels under the street and over existing structures and into the side of the cliff.  The 50-some windows and 50-some doors were splintered, stuck, locked and keyless.  Glass was broken, doors trespassed, the beautiful building belonged to the drifting universe of a small island town – anonymous criminals, among the well-known roster of citizens.

had been coming to the island for years and wandering through the fog. But it was only since October that we decided to restore the Santozeum building – a composite of buildings linked with tunnels under the street and over existing structures and into the side of the cliff. The 50-some windows and 50-some doors were splintered, stuck, locked and keyless. Glass was broken, doors trespassed, the beautiful building belonged to the drifting universe of a small island town – anonymous criminals, among the well-known roster of citizens.

With each layer stripped from wall or floor the omphalos rose and observed its own view – volcano through twin palms, unpruned for 30 years.  With it I breathed more easily and stood in the panes of unfinished windows and doors waiting for the hard cliff breeze to exorcise the house’s unuse.

The building is tranquil and strong.  Its sounds – those of the soundtrack to its exhibit and those of the passers-through and their echoes – are sheltered.  It is like a stone boat – carved in, through, under and atop the cliff.  Wholly private and aloof while organically linked with every passing and viewing body, the Santozeum is a giant.  Ungodly but mythical, otherworldly but a village hearth – the Santozeum rooms, gardens, roofs and chimneys are the airwaves of creative ethers.

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