Exhibition text courtesy James McAnally.
One North, Topping Out Day engages a complex history of architectural erasure and the undulating developments of the Gateway Arch grounds. Referencing the final triangular keystone piece of the Arch (named One North), the piece is site-responsively scaled to The Luminary’s vaulted ceilings, replicating the act of standing underneath the Arch as it shimmers overhead.
Dawson uses the device of a ‘magic carpet’ to tell a narrative of the marginalization and monumentality of this historic site, engaging the long tradition of storytelling through carpets and tapestries to render it readable. The patterning throughout the piece is drawn from Saint Louis and other regional architecture from the 19th and 20th centuries, including the historic riverfront architecture cleared for the creation of the Arch – a pattern continued throughout Saint Louis as the city further marginalizes existing communities for ‘transformational’ projects. As these numerous references are interwoven we may imagine past and present structures remaining on the site simultaneously, collapsing its complex histories into a single surface in order to help us see our inherited present more clearly.