The appeal of Monuments

When picturing the queue to the soul, the line and the travel of this work there is the appeal, the argument and the arrest of companionship. This is the image that I wanted to work through after going to: Between Moments and Monuments: Considering the future of Contemporary Sculpture in the Public Realm, a One Day Sculpture panel discussion.

“The individuality which each of us has got and which makes him a wayward, wilful, dangerous, untrustworthy quantity to every other individual, because every individuality is bound to react at some time or other against every other individuality without exception – or else lost its own integrity, because of the inevitable necessity of each individual to react away from any other individual, at certain times, human love is truly a relative thing, not an absolute.”

D. H. Lawrence states the paradox of asserting individual independence and the compelling appeal of others, of relationships and companionship throughout this process.


– an earnest or urgent request to somebody for something
– a request or campaign to raise money or resources
– the quality that makes somebody or something pleasant or desirable
– a formal request to a higher authority requesting a change in or confirmation of a decision
– the hearing of part or the whole of a previously tried case by a superior court, a request for a hearing, or the right to have such a hearing

Thinking about monuments brings up (historical) portraits. The memories circulated on their documents. Who are the equivalent sitters, subjects and personalities in art today I thought? Are the tics now perceived temporal and spacial enigmas, conundrums, or cheap tricks in the work? Perhaps they are now event based personalities – this suggests a communal or companionship based personality is asserting itself.

Impermanence and appeal to the time and history of the contemporary work is predominant rather than the representation of an existing reality. What does an objects resistance look like? What friction does this imperative appeal to? “In love there must be resistance’ writes Lawrence “We ought to pray to be resisted and resisted to the bitter end.” Anais Nin reasserts “There must be resistance in relationships. It is the basis of strength, of balance, of unison”.

At Alex’s housewarming last night I talked to Tom about his job as a council gardener. He mostly works in the cemetery. If you are one of the few living things around you attract attention – you are the beacon of conversation. In addition to the various talks he has with ‘old ladies’ and the morbid and/or curious, he describes the funereal monuments. There is grave of a cat memorialized in stone, a life-size representation of it being touched totem like by passers by. People often deposit things between its paws as if leaving a marker or two of their time of observation.

There is also another memorial he finds strange, of the woman and her four cats who all seem to be buried together in the same plot. Kate proposed that they’d all perished in a house fire, their ashes scraped together and laid to rest. It’s less pagan than the Egyptian mode of sacrificing animals with respect to company in the afterlife. Tom added that the ashes of the fridge were probably included in the mix so in a way its not that far from the truth of the scene – its appeal to a the cult of the afterlife – a monument that re-emphasises or reminds us about the simple act of observation and observing time.

Dorita Hannah quoted Battaile ‘monuments inspire fear’. She then went on to say ‘the ephemeral control of space’ is instituted in the name of imperatives of freedom and security, rhetoric imperatives. In the work of art there also needs to be a resistance beyond merely the drive to forge ahead or be moving ahead in the name of (aging) ideals. At all times a work needs to appeal to action, to constitute through this appeal fresh ideals that will offer us a healthy kind of companionship over time.

There is an emphasis on real time architecture to look at the expanding relation to resistance that continues to take place, in company, in companionship and in the appeal to companionship. All this makes me think that faith in specific forms of memory defines areas of time. Faith in the memory of the experience and its document or new monument.

In my own practice letting words and sculpture inhabit different arenas and audiences but coming together in the reading, performance or artist talk – the appeal of my intention to an audience considering it in relation to the written or exhibited work: My observation of the intention, the cheap trick of performance, the quantity of unknown prepared outcome – and the outcome to follow and follow.

[Public Forum: Between Moments and Monuments: Considering the future of Contemporary Sculpture in the Public Realm
Saturday 8 March,10.30am – 12.30pm, Pacific Blue Festival Club, Frank Kitts Park, Wellington.

Leading voices in contemporary art and performance will examine how artists are rethinking the concept of public sculpture. The forum will address temporary artistic responses to location; the role of performance and participation, and the capacity for temporary works to sustain permanency through the social imagination. Chaired by Rob Garrett – the panel will include Christina Barton, Claire Doherty, Dorita Hannah, Roman Ondak and Amy Howden-Chapman.]


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