Lexicon for the Provisional Future(s)


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.