Lexicon for the Provisional Future(s)

Author archive

Graffiti Monument

August 14th, 2009


Image / excerpt from the Graffiti Monument. Svetlana Boym: “Intervention of the living graffiti amateur”, Galena Hashhozeva: “or living Mo(nu)ment? and this residual ‘nu’ squeezed in between the two limbs of the past/future moment isn’t meaningless either: it is Swedish /”Dutch”/ for ‘now'”, Anonymous visitor to Skuc (perhaps Wietzke Maas) “but in a sense what weighs on us is not so much the past itself as the prospect of its return and so even this is future oriented”, Svetlana Boym: “two severed heads of forgotten authors”. Transcript by Khadija Z Carroll of a ‘Graffiti Monument’, from Track Changes + Living Monuments, 2007.

See original text in separate Lexicon entry titled Living Monuments, authored with Azra Aksamija.

Authors who participated included: Stephen Zachs, Peter Lang, Ellen Smith, Kate Palmer Albers…

The non-heroic intervention of anonymous authors venting their views on Bruce Lee’s body (see Kung Fu Mostar entries), together with my project ‘Track Changes’ produced for the Lost Highway Exhibition in Skuc, Ljubljana in 2007, gave rise to a new concept for future monuments, the genre of ‘the Graffiti Monument’. By subtracting the statue, the graffiti provisionally became the monument. The graffiti monument speeds up contingence of identities that change over time to reflect our altering memories. It is a response to the failure of historic monuments to activate the interrelation of future and memory. Spread over many meters, the graffiti monument mapped peoples desires and frustrations with the Mickey Mouse versions of history. As a surface the graffiti monument is perpetually metamorphic and ephemeral.

A graffiti monument was tested by having no heroic bulging golden body, but a process of accumulation, as follows:

During the Lost Highway Expedition I asked the travelers to respond to a seemingly simple question about what they imagined would be a perfect future for ‘the Balkan’ they were experiencing. This collaborative writing experiment stemmed from the ELF website onto a separate site that invited people to edit the text that had evolved using the ‘track changes’ editing function to map their contributions.

This second virtual and papery conversation was then installed in Skuc gallery for those beyond the network of people who made up the 300 artists who participated in the LHE to reflect on the propositions of a future living monument. Lounging around in the Slovenian institution, reflecting on the experience of the place, another layer of multi-lingual intertext was added by the public. This was the life of the piece titled ‘Living Monuments + Track Changes’, linking Ljubljana to other voices. The result was multilingual admixture of living wall text, artist’s manifesto, and a graffiti wall.

Rotated History

March 24th, 2009


This is part two of the Kung Fu Mostar story Azra and I wrote in dialogue — please read her entry (included in the lexicon) and then continue here.

Image: Ban Jelacic rotated, photograph by Khadija Z Carroll.

The artist Milica Tomic said of the new wave of Bruce Lee, Rocky Balboa, and Samantha Fox statues that they are “a dangerous joke in which history is being erased and replaced by Mickey Mouse.” Perhaps, for this reason Bruce Lee suffered damaging blows in the badlands of the Mostar community park after both Bosniaks and Croats, claimed that the fighter was an unworthy representative because of his militant pose. His golden body was heavily vandalized with graffiti. Unknown writers expressed their aggression towards the monument. So the statue was rotated into a neutral direction, but the graffiti continued until Bruce had to be taken away from Mostar.

This was not the first time that a Balkan monument was covered, disappeared, and reappeared rotated. The heroic monumental statue of Ban Jelačić that was erected in 1866, facing east in the central ‘Jelačić square’ of Zagreb to celebrate his defense of the city against the Ottomans, was suddenly covered up in 1945. It disappeared from under the covers and in 1947 on top of the cover, as on a giant plinth, a communist star was displayed. Ban Jelačić’s statue was exiled from its plinth until 1990 when it returned to the center of Zagreb. Since then Jelačić’s figure looks in the other direction: now he faces West!

Living Monument

August 14th, 2007

The Living Monument does not commemorate an event that has passed, nor does it exist to represent a trace of a deceased. Its spatial strategy is multi-layering – the interweaving of formal expressions from different social contexts. Providing a territory for multiple histories and memories, a Living Monument acts as a hybrid platform that crosses cultural boundaries. Allowing for an interaction with the past, the Living Monument brings memory to life in the present to enact an ideal future.

Robert Musil marks a beginning of the counter-monuments discourse when he writes that a ‘conspicuous lack of conspicuousness’ negates the memorial function of a monument.1 To make a ‘Monument’ for the ‘Future’ would be a paradox, an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms. Our Living Monument is no longer driven by a desire to preserve memories, represent heroic figures of grandiosity, or mark voids left by holocausts.2 While monuments and counter-monuments commemorate one event, the Living Monument is no longer about the spectacle of nostalgia for one time or place – instead, it represents a territory of multiplicity. (more…)