Part of a monograph ‘Creating Memorials, Building Identities: The Politics of Memory in the Black Atlantic’, which looks at memorialisation and the African Diaspora, this presentation discusses the Memorial for the Commonwealth War Dead at Hyde Park in London inaugurated in 2002. It does so in the context of the history of West Indian, African and African American involvement in the Second World War. It describes the imperial valencies of the monument and the way this undermines radical interpretations of African and African Diasporan contributions to the war effort because it entraps their efforts in an antedeluvian ideology that many of them eschewed. The paper discusses the ways in which French African, British West Indian and African American were engaged in a double fight against Nazism abroad and for democracy and full human rights at home and it is this that the monument fails to acknowledge. The final part of the talk figures what a more successful monument might look like.
The tour, developed for The Monument and the Changing City symposium, explains the design development of Gilbert Scott’s memorials between 1919 and their completion in 1926. The memorials, in the city square and the Harris Museum & Art Gallery, are placed in the context of the national search for appropriate commemoration of the sacrifice of so many that decimated the populations of Britain’s towns and villages. With vague central government recommendations each community produced varied responses specific to unique, local demands. Using examples of Scott’s design drawings the tour explains how one of Britain’s leading architects developed a language of commemoration for Preston that, in addition to the memorials, gave the world one of the iconic symbols of Britain.
As part of the Monument and the Changing City symposium, artist Charles Quick presented Flash@Hebburn, a public art commission for Hebburn Riverside Park, South Tyneside. The talk investigates the methodology used to create the work, and examines the resulting relationship created with the place and its people.
As part of the Monument and the Changing City symposium, Chris Meigh-Andrews made an illustrated presentation outlining the background, context, operations and functioning of his most recently completed site-specific digital installation ‘The Monument Project (Si Monumentum Requiris Circumspice)’ which produces a continuous stream of live panoramic images from the top of the Monument in the City of London.
A rewriting of the imperial cityscape that negotiates new meanings out of the interaction between what is there and what is missing in an attempt to make the urban space speak it’s hidden and diverse history.
In this talk, presented as part of the Monument and the Changing City symposium, Jonathan Vickery looks at the concept of ‘countermonument’ and considers some of its various forms, such as Jochen Gerz’s ‘anti-monument’ strategies. He constructs an ‘art theory’ of the countermonument, derived from an art historical consideration of various examples, but then assesses this theory for its strategic uses in future public spaces. What is the future of ‘countermonument’ as a public or urban art strategy? Does it depend on historical polemic and a Euro-centric critique of modernity — or can we transpose the countermonument discourse into a more complex cosmopolitan European future?
In European cities memory and identity are inextricably linked through the ordering and naming of spaces and the placing of monuments, memorials and other icons of rhetorical topography. In our over-furnished urban centres real and false memory is incised into the city wherever we look, sometimes as an act of genuine national solidarity, sometimes to underwrite a concocted or contrived civic narrative, at other times as an apparent affirmation of local identity.
However, that which is designed to provide a locus of ‘inclusion’ also equally proclaims exclusion; power (as Foucault argued) creates its own points of resistance. Our cities are wrought by political and territorial dispute; the statues, inscriptions, street signs, commemorative plaques and memorials rarely located without complex negotiation, even open dispute because the rivalries for mnemonic space is nearly always fierce and dramatic with political tensions played out vicariously through the siting of civic markers that espouse esteem and status.
Drawing upon memorial landscapes in the UK and overseas, Paul Gough explores the topographies of memory and remembrance, and offers some provocations on why we choose to remember or forget, what we choose to include or leave out, and how we address the ‘anxiety of erasure’ that haunts so many of us.
In Certain Places
VB005A, Victoria Building
University of Central Lancashire