press release

'Since we last spoke about monuments' is a look at recent history from a perspective – that of monuments –, generally reserved to absolute views of the past rather than to its interrogation. The exhibition assembles critical standpoints on the relation between monumentality and our usages of memory, our ideological unrest. It examines contradictions inbuilt in monuments, contradictory uses of monuments, as well as the possibility of a monument that integrates contradiction: dissent, diverging purposes, imagination. It aims to visualize a complicated monument for a complicated state of affairs – political, social or cultural.

The exhibition stems from a desire to disrupt the symbolic apparatus of monuments. Directly or obliquely, the works on show question the political and cultural mechanisms that monuments rely on, their necessity and legitimacy, their address and the communal epiphanies they stand for. Throughout the exhibition, the word 'monument' is used as instrument of questionable truth-value, as oscillation: between obsolescence and possible reinvention, between communities as ideologies imagine them and other, subtler forms of communality, between historical distortions and new ways of making history, between the ravages of populism and political protest, or counter-sovereignty as represented in contemporary art. The 'monument' has less to do with bronze or stone than with the victories, gaps or losses that deserve, today, monumental sites of public negotiation.

Fervent debates the world over about what to remember – where, how, and to whose benefit –, public works commissioned, defaced or deplored, countless instances of symbolic abuse in public space evince the extent to which monuments are still with us today, as screens for projecting political or social emergencies, for enacting cultural memory. Archives, performances, an earthquake, the perfect paradox of a monument to control or a Panopticon looking unto itself, borders and repossessed territory, an untenable claim and conflicting images of eternity – the projects and positions in the exhibition reassert the artistic possibility of the monument, away from fabricated narratives, the deformities of political propaganda or collective Freudian slips.

The exhibition 'Since we last spoke about monuments' is part of the theme program 'nu monument', which investigates the (im)possibility of a contemporary monument, as well as the position of art in this matter. Can art really give meaning to 'publicity' in a fluid and fragmented society?