Statues across America are coming down in the wake of domestic terrorist’s acts of violence. In an issue of Public Art Review, writer Jon Spayde theorizes what’s next when all the monuments come down. The article Monument Changes touches upon the history of why monuments were erected in the past and the lack of publication around how people feel and have felt about these works in the first place.
The still percolating social tension in America has resulted in civic movements centring around what is a more accurate conveyance of the contemporary state of things. I use the word conveyance and not representation because pure representation seems an absolute impossibility. If representation is nothing more than the act of the artist or author drawing on their own histories individualized perspective, then any effort at pure representation is an act made in vain, simply redundant of that which is the idea, to act and make, unless it is ironic or something otherwise completely nuanced, then I see pure representation as degenerative to the act of making insofar as you nor I can say what is undeniable truth.
In America, what this has resulted in, are entire generations of misleading Americans whose belief systems have been stilted by false representation. Which brings us back to the question posed by Spayde, what is a monument today? As far as I understand it, today, this begins and ends with the idea of the object as a communicative this that is ever evolving. To me, what is more, thought-provoking and plurally empowering is the acknowledgement of language being equally curious to the act of portraying it through making an object—that is nothing more than an idea. If we are making a sculpture let that sculpture be an object and should the viewer decide that object is a sculpture, then so be it but simultaneously acknowledge another’s right to declare that object a sculpture and in turn one day declare that sculpture a relic or a paperweight with all things being equal, story is inherent, interweaving and pulling and pulling apart.