This paper considers the immaterial aspects of the history of land as way to reimagine heritage. Through the heritage village – that imagined, artificial, and curated representation of history with very particular kinds of material iterations and legacies of the past – we consider the immaterial memories and histories that have becomes absent from the staging and design of heritage as collective history. We examine the way that these omissions function in the imagination of the present and future by turning to the site-specific contemporary art exhibition Land/Slide Possible Futures (2013). Located on the site of Markham Museum heritage village in Ontario, Canada, this expansive project reveals the imbricated histories of the rise of the heritage village and that of the suburb. Turning to Duke & Battesby’s Always Popular, Never Cool and Terrance Houle’s There’s Things That Even a Drunk Will Never Forget, among others, we argue for the heritage village as a lieu de mémoire, where memories are continuously unearthed, revealed, and imagined, and where artists transform archival collections and historical architectures into surreal and uncanny encounters with those pasts that are immaterial and absent from the facades of heritage.
Image of: The Koch-Burkholder House: constructed in 1860 on Lot 8 Concession 8 Markham; relocated to the Markham Museum grounds in 1977. Courtesy of the Markham Museum.