The following is written in response / review to the State of the Monument (Nov 20, 2018 organised by the Cultural Studies and Contemporary Arts Lab, European University, Cyprus)
Loizidou, C. (2014) Commemoration, Public art and Memorial Politics in Cyprus, 1901-2013 [thesis]
If monuments are about asserting or compensating for insecure regimes, then I wonder if we do need them / to reconsider them / to participatorily bring a new kind of them to life / ritual use. The presumption is that we do need something (to stand for the massively unifying gestures that monuments were meant to perform) (also if we consider the blunderous top-down quest for a European cultural identity). But wouldn’t the dangers with participatory pluralist monuments (that Meecham is advocating for*) be that they might institutionalise / try to maintain the ritual without the actual resource, without the common? Dry and empty performances of allegiance to something that..
everyone else seems to think is important, anyway.
*Meecham is of course doing much more than this, to isolate the point may be an unfair reduction. She also spoke kindly about commemorative abstraction, and at the same time for pluralism or a more local and personal approach (to community building, and what a beautiful example that of the Scottish cross). She finished by arguing for bringing monuments back into focus and putting aside our ideas about monuments being interfered with. This left me wanting to talk more about regimes, state, national, and going past that: regimes of memory. (Under Patrick Wright I was writing about Hartog’s regimes of historicity, but more simply than all that:) Considering monuments to be expressions of regimes, then why would we imagine that a constructivist ‘contemporary participatory art as memory’ regime would be any more legitimate or less oppressive than the previous ones?
To be continued with a nod to Nikolas L.’s poignant formally reductive strategy and spectacular future archaeological lens.