“SQUEEZES” ON THE BATTLEFIELD: With paper, water, and a brush, Nora Okka, a visiting scholar at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS), has made “squeezes,” copies of the sculpted surface of the pillars, of the Princeton Battlefield colonnade. Those squeezes will be exhibited at IAS. (Photo by Dan Komoda, Institute for Advanced Study)
By Donald Gilpin
“Spolia,” the focus of Nora Okka’s research over the past decade, are recycled stones, reliefs, fragments, etc. removed from their original context to be used in a different context. And when Okka, a director’s visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) for the 2019-20 academic year working on a Venetian architecture project, arrived in Princeton, she didn’t expect to discover spolia in the area adjacent to the Institute.
“That was a great surprise for me,” said Okka, who blends the roles of architect, artist, and curator in her multidisciplinary work. “I was invited here by the director in order to complete my research on the spolia in the city of Venice, and it was a surprise for me to realize that the portico has a very intriguing spolia story behind it.”
Okka explained that she made a “squeeze” of the columns — a process with paper, a brush, and water to create a reverse copy of the surface — exactly five days before the 60th anniversary of the Battlefield colonnade, which was dedicated at a ceremony on November 11, 1959. The squeeze process took about four hours, then it dried overnight. Squeezes can be easily carried and stored. more