Summer 2011

Artist Projects / Monument to Forgetting

Try not to remember

John Beech, Eigil Zu Tage-Ravn, Teresa Hubbard & Alexander Birchler, Liz Glynn, and Olav Westphalen

Although the concept of “monumentality” has over time become associated with form—with a sense of exaggerated physical scale—the word itself actually points toward function, derived as it is from the Latin monere, meaning “to remind or warn.” In this, the word is aligned with monuments’ more familiar cultural presence—structures designed to commemorate a person or event. Ubiquitous in public space across the centuries and in every part of the world, monuments pronounce against the inevitability of forgetting because, as conventional wisdom has it, a failure to remember is one of the most dangerous failures of all.

For this issue, our question was whether a monument could be designed to memorialize the very thing that it is designed to prevent—namely, forgetting. This was the brief given to the artists featured here: to imagine monuments that were not intended to memorialize things, people, or episodes that either have been historically suppressed (some forgotten hero, some forgotten atrocity) or were insufficiently consequential to meet the criteria for conventional historical inscription (a lost glove, say). Instead, the editors asked the participants to consider monuments to the act of forgetting itself—to erasure, amnesia, Nietzschean “active” forgetting, Freudian repression, and more. The resulting projects appear—and, in one case, disappear—below.

John Beech, Found-Photo Drawing #125, 2010. Courtesy of John Beech and Peter Blum Gallery, New York.
Eigil zu Tage-Ravn, A Monument to Forgetting, 2011.
Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler, 90–91 Missing Page, 2011.
Liz Glynn, Inverse Obelisk, 2011.
Olav Westphalen, Proposal for a Monument for Some American City, 2011.

John Beech is a Brooklyn-based artist who has had recent solo exhibitions at Peter Blum Chelsea, New York, and the Portland Art Museum, Oregon; in September 2011, he will have a solo show at Haus Der Kunst, Solothurn, Switzerland. Obscure / Reveal, his book collaboration, with playwright Edward Albee, was published by Peter Blum Edition in 2008.

Liz Glynn is a Los Angeles-based installation and performance artist. Recent projects include III, produced by Redling Fine Art in 2010, and The 24 Hour Roman Reconstruction Project. In January 2012, Glynn will present Spirit Resurrection, a new platform for performance, with LACE as part of the Getty Research Institute’s “Pacific Standard Time” initiative.

Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler are American / Swiss artists based in Austin. They recently had their fourth solo exhibition at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York, and are currently participating in “The Cinema Effect,” a touring exhibition organized by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and on view at CaixaForum, Barcelona, in the summer of 2011.

Olav Westphalen is a German artist who currently lives in Stockholm.

Eigil Zu Tage-Ravn is based in Copenhagen. He is currently at work on a series of pastiches of Isak Dinesen short stories.

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