The Debate Over Monuments
Today, I watched a lecture on the place and role of monuments.
When I worked in public art, monuments were always an issue of debate. We had to ask ourselves:
- if they needed to stay or should they move and if so to where?
- who should pay for maintenance or moving?
- should they be destroyed or preserved?
- sometimes we had to even ask if they qualify as art.
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in collaboration with the University of Chicago recently had a lecture on the topic. Which is linked above, it's really good and I suggest you check it out!
There were a lot of really interesting examples and points that were presented. Here are some of my take aways from the lecture:
- monuments want immortality
- they keep the past alive BUT the past is past, the past is dead
- monuments are like a gravestone for an event
- the date of a monuments creation is sometimes far past the event it immortalizes
- like any artwork the context of the time and place to display a piece can change how it's read
- "a monument is a work...erected for the specific purpose of keeping particular human deeds or destinies... alive and present in the consciousness of future generations." -Alois Reigl
- can more be added to a monuments story? can a response exist beside it?
- can monuments that bring painful reminders to populations be moved? treated as an artifact. stored where they can be studied in respect to their place in history?
- is debate over monuments a teachable moment?
- the issue of art and it's relationship to audience.
- ignore the monuments debate all together and instead celebrate pieces that never got attention at their initial creation.