The hippocampus is large convoluted C- shaped structure in the temporal lobe of the brain, responsible for the episodic memory, the re experience of personal past events and for imaginative constructions of hypothetical scenarios. It is necessary for the role of memory in imagining the future. Its name comes from its morphological similarity with the Sea Horse, from the Ancient Greek hippos meaning “horse” and kampos meaning “sea monster”.
Thanks to scientific research and neuroimaging evidence it is believed today that when a detailed situation is recollected or imagined, the relations and associations needed to create that contextual scene are being processed by the hippocampus.
The importance of the hippocampus as a very rich part in the consolidation process of memory because of being densely connected with other parts of the brain, would be mirrored in the Hippocampus sculpture, since it will have a similar semantic function; as a place where incessant associations could be made, through the critical recollection of the past.
The sculpture Hippocampus, with its rostral portion recurved dorsally, developed from the study of architect Hans Poelzig’s sketches for the settings of Wegener and Boese’s 1920 film “Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam” and from his many drawings derived from nature observation, in contrast to the 1930 IG Farben and Casino Building’s design.
In 1928 Poelzig won the competition to design the building that would be used for 15 years as IG Farben Headquarters, a conglomerate of leading German chemical industries that became an indispensable part of the Nazi war economy. In that same location stood the former City Psychiatric Hospital, Affenfelsen or Affenstein, where in 1901-03 Alois Alzheimer defined the Alzheimer’s disease.
From 1945 until 1994, the IG Farben building was confiscated and turned into the American and later the NATO-command for Europe. The building’s area of the Casino was attacked by the Rote Armee Fraktion in 1972, 1976 and 1982. Following German reunification, the IG Farben compound was converted into a free lease. In 1996, the state of Hesse bought the IG Farben building and associated land and turned it over to the Goethe University of Frankfurt. Students and faculty insisted on confronting the building’s history by retaining its original name, the IG Farben Building.
Hippocampus intercepts arts, architecture, history and natural sciences, contributing to enriching the debate among the different disciplines that Johann Wolfgang Goethe Universität Frankfurt welcomes.