Representing destruction

Bowman, Matthew (2021) Representing destruction. Art Monthly, 449. pp. 5-8. ISSN 0142-6702

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Abstract

A confluence of events this summer has drawn renewed attention towards the question of destruction and art. Collaborating with Flat Time House, curator Jes Fernie has established an online platform, Archive of Destruction, bringing together ‘narratives around destruction and public art’. Very much a work, or conversation, in progress, the archive contains famous cases, such as the 1989 dismantling of Richard Serra’s Tilted Arc, 1981, and the auto-destruction of Jean Tinguely’s Homage to New York, 1960, alongside perhaps lesser-known projects like Maja Bekan’s A Series of Unexpected Events, 2014–17, which investigates the mysterious disappearance of Alfons Karny’s 1928 neoclassical sculpture Nude Boy from a Polish housing estate in 1992. In June, meanwhile, the Glasgow International festival featured 13 of Sam Durant’s Iconoclasm drawings, 2018, each of which depicts the felling or destruction of a monument, such as the statue of Joseph Stalin in Budapest during October. Each monument was envisaged by their commissioners as a permanent object of display erected for the benefit of future generations, yet the fragility of their conjoint materiality and universalising claims is made plain as those generations increasingly refuse to accept certain monuments as their civic representation. Then there is the current display of the Edward Colston statue at M Shed in Bristol. Placed in a reclining position, with the spray paint now preserved upon its surface, the statue has finally attained the status that its makers dreamt of: namely, to be a testament to living history, albeit not the history that the original Colston admirers envisioned.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: art, fine art, public art, destruction
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BH Aesthetics
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
N Fine Arts > NB Sculpture
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Business & Applied Social Science > Department of Arts & Humanities
Depositing User: Matthew Bowman
Date Deposited: 06 Sep 2021 09:45
Last Modified: 06 Sep 2021 09:45
URI: http://oars.uos.ac.uk/id/eprint/1958

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