A memorial stands in for loss. It helps to—if not understand it—think about the facts and feelings of loss, which are insurmountably further-ranging than the memorial itself. A memorial provides a thing to stand under, a scaffold.
In the field of public memorials there is a convention of call and response: a committee puts out a request for proposals, to which artists and architects respond with proposals. There are follow-up conversations, further questions, and eventually one proposal is selected and re-worked, developed, created. This system relies upon consensus—the event being memorialized is agreed upon, named, and the function of the memorial is spelled out. But what about the insurmountability of the request? What if the work itself could be seen as both a proposal and a request: a proposed relationship to history, and a request to revise that relationship?
This online project for Open Systems takes memorialization as an ongoing and elliptical process: one that moves back and forth between subjective and civic experience, and between focused and peripheral attention. Memorial and Revision features recent works by five artists and collectives that in different ways question the formality of “monumental” gesture. In different ways, these practices advocate against the hegemonic recapitulation of known histories and societal grievances.
Iman Issa’s video Proposal for an Iraq War Memorial (2007) and Jelena Jureša’s video and photographic project MIRA: Study for a Portrait (2010–2014) question whether images can act as memorials. Plattform Geschichtspolitik’s project Weinheber Ausgehoben (Unearthing a Nazi Poet) (2011–ongoing) interrogates a pre-existing monument to a Nazi poet in Vienna. Their work addresses the persistence of historically potent representations in public imagination—a line of thinking also taken up by Ruslana Lichtzier in her text-based work 6 x 9 (2013). The audio project Sonic Deep Map (2013) created by Radio Aktiv (Brett Bloom, Bonnie Fortune, and Antye Greie-Ripatti) explores a kind of speculative memorialization, documenting the efforts of activists to save their landscape from the construction of a proposed nuclear power plant. With the exception of Plattform Geschichtspolitik’s project, which can be witnessed or joined while an intervention or public discussion is taking place, each of these works is originally encountered in an intimate space: in a gallery, over radio broadcast, or on the Internet. For Memorial and Revision, each has been adapted to appear online, and is accompanied by a short text.
I have developed Memorial and Revision as the first part of an ongoing project that considers memorials as live stages for political and aesthetic dispute...
— “Memorial and Revision,” online project for Open Systems, 2014.
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