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The Debate Over Monuments

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.
Finished Knit Painting

Finished Knit Painting

Time Lapse Portrait Drawings

Time Lapse Portrait Drawings