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Performative monuments

PREVIEW -- Book will be out in early 2014

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SERIES EDITORS

Amelia G. Jones, Marsha Meskimmon


Rethinking Arts Histories aims to open out art history from its
most basic structures by foregrounding work that challenges
the conventional periodisation and geographical subfields of
traditional art history, and addressing a wide range of visual
cultural forms from the early modern period to the present.
These books will acknowledge the impact of recent scholarship on
our understanding of the complex temporalities and cartographies
that have emerged through centuries of world-wide trade, political
colonisation and the diasporic movement of people and ideas
across national and continental borders.

Also available in the series


Art, museums and touch Fiona Candlin
The do-it-yourself artwork: Participation from fluxus
to relational aesthetics Anna Dezeuze (ed.)
After the event: New perspectives in art history
Charles Merewether and John Potts (eds)
Photography and documentary film in the making
of modern Brazil Luciana Martins
Women, the arts and globalization: Eccentric experience
Marsha Meskimmon and Dorothy Rowe (eds)
After-affects|after-images: Trauma and aesthetic transformation
in the virtual Feminist museum Griselda Pollock
Vertiginous mirrors: The animation of the visual image
and early modern travel Rose Marie San Juan
The newspaper clipping: a modern paper object
Anke Te Heesen, translated by Lori Lantz
Screen/space: The projected image
in contemporary art Tamara Trodd (ed.)

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Performative monuments
The rematerialisation of public art
Mechtild Widrich

Manchester University Press


Manchester and New York
distributed in the United States exclusively by Palgrave Macmillan

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Copyright Mechtild Widrich 2014


The right of Mechtild Widrich to be identified as the author of this work has
been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents
Act 1988.
Published by Manchester University Press
Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9nr, uk
and Room 400, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, ny 10010, usa
www.manchesteruniversitypress.co.uk
Distributed in the United States exclusively by
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ny 10010, usa
Distributed in Canada exclusively by
UBC Press, University of British Columbia, 2029 West Mall,
Vancouver, BC, Canada v6t 1z2
British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data applied for
isbn 978 0 7190 9163 6 hardback
First published 2014
The publisher has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs
for any external or third-party internet websites referred to in this book,
and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain,
accurate or appropriate.

Typeset in Minion with Myriad display


by Koinonia, Manchester
Printed in Great Britain
by

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Contents

List of illustrations
Acknowledgements
Introduction: what is a performative monument?

1
2
3
4

page ix
xiii
1

Documents

13

Audiences

53

Sites

102

Monuments

144

Relations

194

Select bibliography
Index

203
218

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This is a preview -- book will be out in early 2014

Introduction:
what is a performative monument?

There is an aphorism by Robert Musil, first printed in his 1936 Posthumous


Papers of a Living Author, to the effect that there is nothing in the world as
invisible as monuments.1 We simply overlook traditional monumental sculpture in public space. The statues of great heroes and formerly famous poets
have mysteriously fallen silent. Worse, we throw the famous deceased, with
a stone monument around their necks, into a sea of forgetting. Musils text,
especially the sentence cited above, is quoted often in defence of contemporary public art. The brief essay, originally delivered as a talk on 10 December
1927, puts great emphasis on the monuments need for attention from an
audience.2 And that is because this audience is itself the monuments target.
The job of monuments, according to Musil, is to kick-start commemoration
(ein Gedenken erst zu erzeugen), to grab our attention and give our feelings
a pious direction; and at this their main business monuments fail always.3
Musil uses the German term Denkmal, usually translated as monument, but
literally a mark to think.4 The Austrian writer and critic sees the function of
the monument as social through and through, a function obscured by undue
focus on a few great artistic monuments of the past that people seek with
Baedeker in hand, like the Venetian Colleoni and the Paduan Gattamelata.
These energetic monuments have nothing to do with the dullness of the
equestrian statues still commissioned in Musils day. These pale in comparison with advertisement, which knows very well how to meet its audience.
At least, Musil suggests innocently, statues could clap their eyes open and
shut, or carry slogans like Goethes Faust is the best! Thus they could avoid
the oil on water effect, wherein our attention slides off them like water off a
ducks back as we make our way through the city.5 Why do we do this? It is
not malice on our part, but the plain need to orient ourselves in public, free
of the encumbrance and individual attention that political art demands of its
subjects. The arm points forward imperiously, but no one thinks to obey it.6
No one fears the drawn sword of the hero, no one steps out of the way of his
charging steed. By God! Monument figures make no step forward, and yet
theyre always making a faux pas.7 What Musil has put his finger on here is

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Performative monuments

not the comic inadequacy of immortalized action. Of course a cavalry charge


does not go on forever: what strikes him is that it does not even go on for a
moment for the pedestrian with his hot dog (Wurstbrot). The social function
of the monument, explicit in the generals barked command, does not touch
its target. In a way, the story of this book is the story of Musils monuments: a
shift from seeing them as outdated authoritarian machines to harnessing their
social potential the involvement of the audience in a social bond intended
to instil historical consciousness.
Todays monuments often enough have, and flaunt, an event character.
They are temporary, precarious, small, they engage, act on and with their
audience. Take for example the work of Swiss artist Thomas Hirschhorn.
Hischhorn showed his Bataille Monument on the outskirts of Kassel during the
eleventh documenta (documenta 11) in 2002. In order to see the monument,
visitors had to take a detour to a neighbourhood known for a high proportion of immigrants, high unemployment, and desolate grey social housing
(Figure 1). In fact, the titular monument itself was just one among eight
elements of this expansive project: besides the sculpture, resembling a tree
stump, a Georges Bataille Library invited visitors to browse books arranged by
keywords like word, image, and sex; a didactic display presented Batailles
life and work; various workshops were open to all comers; a kebab stand run
by a Turkish couple served fast food; a television studio allowed the locals
as well as philosophers to broadcast on topics however loosely connected to
Bataille; a free shuttle service brought visitors to the site, and locals to the
main art venues downtown; a webcam and website expanded access to the site
for viewers outside Kassel. The project, funded by documenta, was built and
overseen by the young members of a local boxing club. Hirschhorn explained
the work as a critique of the monument genre:
The Bataille monument is a precarious, temporary art project in public space,
which is erected and looked after by the youth and by inhabitants of a quarter.
The Bataille Monument wants to pose questions and wants to open space
and time for discussions and ideas through the site, its materials, and the
duration of the exhibition. The Bataille Monument is a critique of the existing
monument; the Bataille Monument comes from below, it does not want to
intimidate anyone, it is not indestructible, it is not defined for eternity.8

Hirschhorns negations reveal a post-war consensus on the monument:


authoritatively installed from above, intimidating, permanent, oblivious to
its site, and, one might add with Musil, socially dysfunctional or ineffective.
Hirschhorns monument, in contrast, was meant to turn visitors into participants. He does not want to work for an exclusive public. He wants to include
and connect people. A noble thought (ein herrlicher Gedanke), concluded a
regional newspaper, not without a hint of irony.9

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Introduction

If the Bataille Monument itself consists in part in the selling of kebab,


lending videos, and broadcasting amateurs, in short, in the social connections and press that the work generates, it follows that the monument is a
temporally and physically distributed event. Following this idea, one could
consider Hirschhorns statement, the newspaper interview and the resulting
article, and other such acts and objects, as themselves parts of the monument,
since they partake in the creation and maintenance of its social goals. Indeed,
such a way of reading the publicity around the monument can hardly be seen
as against the grain, since the statements in question fit the requirements for
a monument from below that Hirschhorn himself articulated. These strategies are more familiar from ephemeral urban performance art than from
monumental sculpture.10 But they are not the end of the story. After the
precarious, ephemeral exhibition has ended, there remain individuals who
remember having participated in or encountered the work, and documents
and artefacts that recorded its presence. The public statements and press
clips that seemed so action-like a moment ago immortalize the project as

Thomas Hirschhorn, Bataille Monument, 2002 (snack bar), documenta 11, Kassel,
2002

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they enter libraries and archives, and are cited by historians. This element of
permanence, or at least extended duration, brings back with it some of the
function and authority of the classic monument. At the very least, it tells us
how to see monuments, Kassel, and Hirschhorns intervention there, whose
print discourse defines it, if not for eternity, for long enough.
Must the Bataille Monument be read as an ephemeral performance or as
a lasting monument? These seemingly contradictory genres are in fact intertwined; work like Hirschhorns is unthinkable apart from a historical process
of rapprochement dating back to the 1960s at least. In the chapters that follow, I
will show how the live art of that era, with its anarchic but carefully planned and
documented street actions, provided the impetus for new ways of addressing
the past in 1980s Europe and beyond. Performance, the supposed antipode to
the monument in its temporality and embodiment, in fact held the key to its
revival as democratic community-builder. Under the force of performance,
made durable and rhetorically powerful through photographic documents,
the monument became a practice that involved audiences explicitly in actions
with binding social force. This book thus rethinks both the supposed one-time
encounter of performance art and the orthodoxy that commemorative art of
the post-war period turned against itself by divesting its countermonuments
of any marks of authority. Without authority, public art can claim no agency.
How it can have this without being authoritarian is the question.
To begin answering the question, I draw attention to a remarkable and
puzzling historical fact about post-war European art: young, oppositional
performance artists of the 1960s and 1970s became the foremost monument
designers of the 1980s and 1990s (and remain so, to some extent, in the early
twenty-first century). A majority of the artists I discuss are women: it is
women who posed some of the most unsettling questions about the historical
depth of supposedly immediate experience in performance art, and it is the
same women who most dramatically manifest the historical, commemorative direction of contemporary performance. This means a shift not simply
in gender, but in focus: away from the implicitly male authority of the hero,
whether architect or action painter, to the challenging analysis of historical
consciousness and of the built environment. And yet, some of the most prominent architects of the new monuments are men. But their own background as
performers, in the relevant cases, attuned these male artists to issues neglected
in the sculpture, painting, and architecture of their time. The shift is one from
making history, experiencing it first hand, to reconstructing it, experiencing
it at a remove: through the body, by thinking about it and past events, and in
general by drawing connections between body, site, and time.
Performance is itself a form of public art. As such, it encounters social
forces, and causes social reactions, that, in their visibility and documentation,
acquire monumental authority. My larger claim is that performance artists, in

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Introduction

working in public space, came not just to resemble monuments in their performances but to be interested in just those problems of political representation
and its relation to the spectator that drove Musils questions about monuments.
They thus reoriented public art around an intersection of performance and the
monument, of which Hirschhorn is only a recent manifestation. There are many
varieties of this engagement, which in its paradigmatic form I call the performative monument. Their common denominator, audience participation, is an
inheritance of performance art. Some are ephemeral objects in a literal sense
like the Bataille Monument, dismantled after documenta closed. This might
suggest ephemerality as their practice, and main affinity to performance, but
this suggestion is deceptive. For instance, the cars used for the shuttle service
of the Bataille Monument were auctioned on eBay signed by the artist, no
less (Figure 2). Does that mean that a part of Hirschhorns monument persists
in some collectors home, or, unsettling thought, plies the streets of Europe? I
should say not: there is no medium-specific law of ephemerality of objects in
play, endangering the precariousness of Hirschhorns temporary monument.
What I see, rather, is the paradoxical situation that the temporal limitation of
the monument has given it a retrospective interest issuing in such actions as
the auction. In any case, an interest in a past event, not in a present artefact,
motivated the sale and other extensions of the Bataille Monument. And that,
however marginally, makes that summers event in Kassel not the tree stump,
not the car into a performative monument.

Thomas Hirschhorn, Bataille Monument, 2002 (car service), documenta 11, Kassel,
2002

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Performative monuments

Maya Lin, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C., 1982

What is crucial to the performative monument, then, cannot be impermanence as such, but the temporal interaction with an audience that itself
is no eternal public, but a succession of interacting subjects. Ephemerality of
objects is one strategy among others in making concrete this temporality of
the work. Could a monument consisting of two 75 meter-long granite walls
function as a performative monument? It does. Visitors to Maya Lins Vietnam
Veterans Memorial in Washington trace the names engraved into the stone on
pieces of paper to take home (Figure 3). Indeed, the volunteers organized by
the National Park Service hand out pencil and tracing paper, cementing what
was at first a spontaneous and personal (if foreseeable) mode of interaction.
The behaviour of visitors to Lins memorial may not add up to a new
practice as such the Renaissance knew similar funerary rituals, and German
architect and theorist Gottfried Semper declared the pomp of victory processions the origin of monumental objects.11 What is new in Lins work is that
interaction with the audience has become so much part of the work that most
printed photographs of the monument show some sort of engaged visitor,
touching the stone and being reflected in the polished granite; most are busy
tracing, though of course one seldom sees photos of the Park Service volunteers.12 Yet the photographs invariably reproduce a persons action before the
monument. In this sense the monument is also always a performance. In being
photographed, the private ritual becomes a public act of commemoration for
a wider public to see: it is part and parcel of the monuments success story.

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Introduction

Historical and theoretical aims


The artists I discuss in this study developed in a period during which
monuments stood for monumentality and were largely discredited as authoritarian. Musils literary account is in a way matched by the efforts of the architectural avant-garde of the 1930s, from conservative modernist Peter Meyer
to Congrs internationaux darchitecture moderne founder and technophile
Sigfried Giedion. These critics initiated an international debate about the
status of monumentality, hoping to produce an alternative to the pseudomonumentality of fascism and Stalinism, a new form of monumentality
responsive to the needs of communities, not governments.13 The debate went
largely unheard within art circles. Architecture became important in artistic
practice of the 1960s, however, both in the abstract discourse of minimalist
spatial experience and as a marker of a vaguely threatening public sphere.
The monumentality of architecture stood for authority in general, and while
avant-garde architects such as Superstudio in Italy and Robert Venturi in
America redefined highway ramps and fast-food stands as the real contemporary monument, artists started experimenting with historical and social
aspects of public space, reconsidering their own involvement in the production and mediation of ffentlichkeit (publicness).14 Often, they used their
own physical presence to trip the hidden wires of power that they saw in
monumental architecture. The turning point is the early 1970s, when a
counter-cultural rhetoric of revolutionary presence cooled into works experimenting with the collaboration between act and mediation. To trace a shift
from confrontational performance to media performance in public space, and
finally performative monuments, and link these to long-running debates on
what public art is, while showing the political breadth of the monument, is the
historical aim of this book.
Theoretically, my task is to understand the combination of political needs
and aesthetic solutions proposed for them that comprise the performative
monument. The historical bookends of this development are the Second World
War and 1989, the much-repressed memory of the Holocaust in the decades
after 1945 and the politics of the Cold War. Not all artworks I discuss deal
explicitly with history, but all can be read in tension between the individual
and the (mass-) political in Europe after 1945, where so much stress lay on
memory and its suppression. These circumstances provide us with a necessary
footing for understanding how the performative monument became a privileged mode of reckoning with the past. The ascendancy of the new monument
coincides with the memory boom and debate of the 1990s. By taking
into consideration the more recent problematization of audience participation
in both architecture and performance, and by acknowledging the historical
heterogeneity of public space and experience, I strive to go beyond a study of

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memorial art and art in the public interest. The subject of this book, in other
words, is not given with either one art discourse be it memorials, performance, or photography or historical milieu. My approach is more conceptual, thinking through the notion of a temporally extended audience. Such a
delayed audience can, but need not, comprise a community, just as its acts of
commemoration need not be acts of memory. An act of commemoration does
not relive the past but is itself a present fact of public conduct. The insistence
on real presence and experience is thus radically ambiguous, pointing to the
past while carrying its political and aesthetic effects into the future.
To show how this functions in practice, I have to identify several distinct
possible relationships between performance and the monument, and explore
them in historical contexts where their engagement with political questions
can emerge. In Chapter 1, Documents, I first connect performance with
history through the recent phenomenon of re-performance, reconstructing
the different temporal layers of the audience of one act.
The second chapter, Audiences, turns to the Austrian avant-garde since
the 1960s, whose contradictory, elaborate staging of visceral acts already play
their part in the first chapter. The Viennese Actionists and VALIE EXPORT in
particular stage a confrontation with patriarchal society through closely photographed events allegorizing a state of radical mediation. On this principle
EXPORT went on to examine authoritarian patterns in state architecture by
photographing a body in space. She now designs memorials that take up these
strategies of bodily mediation: the realized Transparent Cube and her proposal
for the Holocaust Monument Vienna (won by Rachel Whiteread) show how
glass can mediate spectator bodies in a performance of history.
In the move from photography to architecture, the performance shifts
from artist to spectator. To see how spectators can enter the complex set of
circumstances in which they become collaborators in public art, in Chapter
3 I examine art in the former Yugoslavia. I start with early works by Marina
Abramovi wherein she politically marks the city through acts of erasure and
projection. Abramovis confrontation with Belgrade in her early slide work
Freeing the Horizon is comparable to EXPORTs work in Vienna, but brings
to light contexts of censorship and indoctrination in which to view her work
is construed as itself a political act. To explain this, I sharpen the theoretical
tools of site, insisting on its temporal specificity. Abramovi used her body as
a political marker of nationhood and region to be read in a global context,
undertaking grandiose theatrical productions and memorials. These works,
of which I discuss recent examples in Salzburg and Basel, paradoxically invite
spectators to reflect on their relative insignificance and inability to participate
in the making of history.
The mobilization of spectators as performers leads me to the means by
which artists and theorists in Germany dealt with their national past, and the

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Introduction

contested notion of nation in general, trying to arrive at a democratic model


of citizens rather than national subjects. Chapter 4 begins with the Venice
Biennale of 1976, remarkable for contributions by Joseph Beuys, Jochen
Gerz, and Reiner Ruthenbeck that circle around the monument as metaphor
for national identity. Gerzs 1986 Monument against Fascism, a column that
visitors signed as a protest against fascism and that was lowered into the
ground when enough signatures had accumulated, is key to this development.
Against the orthodox view of this work as blandly permitting a stand for or
against fascism, I show how Gerz, who came out of performance, used the
force of monumental speech-acts developed in Venice to arrive at a public art
that aims at contractually binding its spectators as agents.
The subject matter of the book is thus geographically and temporally
distributed, addressing artists and spectators on both sides of the Second World
War and the Cold War, in geographically and culturally adjacent stretches of
Central Europe. Given this focus, a few words are required on the method and
terminology of my study. I have discussed performance and monument, and
will further historicize these terms, but it is worth stating right away that I do
not use performative simply as the adjective of performance. Performance art
is sometimes but not always performative, as, I claim, are monuments. What
these works have in common that is of interest to me is their performative
force, the fact that through conventional gestures they effect changes in social
reality.15 The model I employ to extract these social implications is speech-act
theory, itself a philosophical product of the period under study. This will involve
a particular modification of speech-acts or performatives, as defined by the
English philosopher J.L. Austin in lectures of the mid-1950s, to works of art, in
particular though not exclusively photographs. Though my reading of Austin
is informed by later criticisms, notably Jacques Derridas claim that the frame
of communication can never be exactly determined, and thus, that effects are
unpredictable, I think that Austins texts anticipate most objections. A careful
reading of his texts shows an awareness of the instabilities of communication, instabilities that are even more acute in artistic contexts (Austin himself
tended to exclude art speech from his preliminary analysis). It is revealing
that Austins theory was adapted by the German post-war philosopher Jrgen
Habermas, who has made the performative central to his reconstruction of
democratic political theory and, less successfully, commemoration.
The speech-act model, which I will describe in detail later, is concerned
with acts of representation that bring about what they represent. Analogously,
I will show how the contemporary monument does not tell political facts,
but engages audiences in forming new ones. Herein lies their political appeal,
but also their danger. Can political art deal with the past, when its results are
not representations of the past but new historical facts? Here we must rethink
arts function, which is not that of bearer of information, however theoretical

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10

Performative monuments

or abstract.16 Performative monuments work to establish a political relation to


a history that the performer has not personally experienced. The attitude to
the past of the spectator of a performative monument is conventionalized and
made public, and thus becomes an object of public inquiry. Is the new relation
more politically responsible than traditional spectatorship? Is performative
public art in a sense politically compulsory or manipulative? These questions
can only be assessed but not homogeneously answered in specific cases.
The aesthetic and political practice that issues in performative monuments
takes as its starting point the principle that symbolic acts have social consequences. Acting on this principle binds together bodily presence, documentation, and historical discourse in intimate and sometimes uncomfortable ways.
It is appropriate that the flowering of the new performative monuments corresponds to the renewed call, during the last years of the Cold War and beyond,
for political discussion of the relationship of the individual to the state. In
the decades that form the main focus of the book, there is a sea change from
a general distrust of the very idea of monument in the 1960s, to a conscious
involvement of the person and its architectural surrogates in remembrance
since the 1980s, just as personal memory and oral history become officially
accepted seemingly democratic models of commemoration. Performance
practice has in many ways followed suit: from violent actions to the staging
of objects and bodies in installations, from the messy presence of the artist
to delegate performance, from performance for the camera to a complex
mixing of mediated layers of reality, performance has from its inception been
rethinking the relationship between artistic production and its environment,
be it the built environment or the social life of audiences. The shift from seeing
the monument as authoritarian colossus to harnessing its concrete social force
is the story of this book.
Notes
1 Es gibt nichts auf der Welt, was so unsichtbar wre wie Denkmler. Robert Musil,
Denkmale, Nachlass zu Lebzeiten, in Gesammelte Werke, ed. Adolf Fris, vol. 7
(Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1978), 5069. The German title, which Musil
explains, is more literally Legacy in My Lifetime. The paraphrase above, which
better conveys the joke, is from the English translation by Peter Wortsman, Robert
Musil, Posthumous Papers of a Living Author (Hygiene, Colorado: Eridanos Press,
1987).
2 Musil, Denkmale, 60410. The lecture contains details that Musil left out in 1936,
notably enthusiastic praise for the Siegesallee, a marble gallery of Prussian rulers
installed by Kaiser Wilhelm II in Berlin Zoo (605).
3 Ibid., 507.
4 Ibid. In German monument is applied to works of art regardless of function:
thus a series of postcards of Musils era, recording Catholic cloisters and their

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Introduction

5
6
7
8

9
10

11

12

13

11

contents, bears the Latin title Monumenta Photographica Austriae, and, in German,
Geschichts- und Kunstdenkmale sterreichs.
Ibid., 508.
Ibid.
Ibid.
Thomas Hirschhorn, Bataille Monument fr documenta 11 Kassel 2002, statement dated February 2002, reprinted in Thomas Hirschhorn, Bataille Maschine
(Berlin: Merve, 2003), 42. See also the catalogue on the occasion of Hirschhorns
contribution to the 2011 Venice Biennale: Thomas Hirschhorn (ed.), Establishing
a Critical Corpus. With essays by Claire Bishop, Hal Foster, Sebastian Egenhofer,
and others (Zurich: Ringier Kunstverlag, 2011).
Martin Scholz, Mehr ist mehr; weniger ist weniger. Martin Scholz ber das
Bataille Monument, Hessische/Niederschsische Allgemeine (15 June 2002).
Notice of this is impaired by Hirschhorns occasional claims that he is a formalist
sculptor. Benjamin Buchloh, for instance, builds a historical arc from Hirschhorn
to the classical avant-garde, Fluxus, and post-minimalist sculpture in Cargo and
Cult. The Displays of Thomas Hirschhorn, Artforum, 40:3 (November 2001),
10915. Against this, it may be noted that the precariousness of Hirschhorns
work has more to do with the actual relationships he enters into in assembling his
monuments than with visual commitments: see Sebastian Egenhofer, Produktionssthetik (Zrich: Diaphanes, 2010), 133. Hirschhorn himself cites Joseph Beuys as
his precursor. On the view that Hirschhorns, and Beuys, medium consists of social
relations as such (Nicolas Bourriauds esthtique relationelle), see my conclusion.
Triumphal arches, Semper argued, needed to be executed in more solid material
than processional architecture only, so that memory of the victory could be passed
on to later generations. Sempers role in the debate on monumentality in architecture is well explained in kos Moravnszky, Monumentalitt, in Architekturtheorie im 20. Jahrhundert. Eine kritische Anthologie, edited by kos Moravnszky and
Katalin M. Gyngy (Vienna/New York: Springer, 2002), 366.
See Geraldine A. Johnson, Sculpture, Photography, and the Politics of Public Space.
Serras Tilted Arc and Lins Vietnam Veterans Memorial, in Geraldine A. Johnson
(ed.), Sculpture and Photography. Envisioning the Third Dimension (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1998), 213ff. Kirk Savage calls Lins project the nations
first therapeutic memorial in The Conscience of the Nation, Monument Wars.
Washington D.C., the National Mall, and the Transformation of the Memorial
Landscape (Berkeley/London/Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2009),
chapter 6.
See Sigfried Giedion, Jos Luis Sert, and Fernand Lgers 1943 Nine Points on
Monumentality. Of this manifesto, Giedion recalls that all had been asked by the
American Abstract Artists Group (AAA) to write on the topic, and decided to pool
their resources. Sigfried Giedion, Architecture, You and Me. A Diary of a Development (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1958), 22. See also Peter Meyer,
berlegungen zum Problem der Monumentalitt [1938] in Moravnszky, Architekturtheorie, 42733. The debate in architectural circles persisted for a decade:
in 1948, the Architectural Review held a symposium under the title In Search

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Performative monuments

of a New Monumentality, published in Architectural Review, 104 (1948), 11728.


Central to this debate is architectural and social critic Lewis Mumford, from
Death of the Monument [1937] in Mumford, The Culture of Cities (New York:
Praeger, 1938), 43340, to Monumentalism, Symbolism and Style, Architectural
Review, 105 (1949), 17380. On the debate and its effect on planning, in particular
public gardens, see Andrew M. Shanken, Planning Memory: Living Memorials in
the United States during World War II, Art Bulletin, 84:1 (March 2002), 13047.
14 On monumentality in postmodern architecture, see Martino Stierli, Las Vegas im
Rckspiegel. Die Stadt in Theorie, Fotografie und Film, (Zrich: gta Verlag, 2010),
and Annette Urban and Carsten Ruhl (eds), Mythos Monument. Urbane Strategien
in Architektur und Kunst seit 1945 (Bielefeld: Transcript, 2011).
15 This model is distinct from theatricality, which concerns only experience. I thus
omit the protracted debate over minimalism, on which see Michael Fried, Art and
Objecthood, Artforum 5 (June 1967), 1223, reprinted in Fried, Art and Objecthood:
Essays and Reviews (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), 14872; YvesAlain Bois, A Picturesque Stroll around Clara-Clara, October, 29 (Summer, 1984),
3262, and Anna Chave, Minimalism and the Rhetoric of Power, Arts Magazine,
645 (January 1990), 4463.
16 I have in mind many articulate accounts of contemporary art which find a correlation between arts content and some contemporary political theory (in the early
twenty-first century, usually that of Jean-Luc Nancy or Jacques Rancire). I am
not arguing that Austins, or even Habermass, ideas are put into practice, but
merely that they help us to understand what those projects that I call performative monuments are doing.

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