ISSUE #8 – All Monuments Must Fall
Episodes and Counterimages from a Present History of Iconoclasm
“All Monuments Must Fall.” Four words, calling out and calling up. An indictment of police terror, a demand for an end to impunity. A toppling of white supremacist, settler colonial patriarchs: Robert E. Lee and Christopher Columbus, Cecil Rhodes and Leopold II. And more: this “all” reaching the roots of monumentality itself, imagining a reordering of public culture and public space, a summoning of the common to come. Iconoclasm: the breaking of a dominant image, or the breaking of its power, its spell or grip or bad aura. The breaking of regime and amnesia. A proposition, then, for a reparative repatterning, a Now-Time of Justice.
The Critical Studies Seminar of the CCC Research-based Master Programme took the proposition and practice of All Monuments Must Fall as its 2020-2021 focus. (The phrase itself comes from the excellent online syllabus collaboratively produced by a Baltimore group, discussed in the introductory essay, below.) Through readings, discussion and immersion in the visual evidence of this new moment of iconoclasm, the seminar reflected on the differences between remembrance from below, the monumentality of official history from above, and counter-memorial artistic practices. The construction of history, the ideology of monuments, and the social and political functions of public space were critically explored. Some artistic interventions into the cultural politics of memory and forgetting were considered and discussed. Students were asked to choose examples or case studies, either from the public spaces of Geneva or elsewhere, for further investigation and reflection. Professor Roberto Zancan from the Space Design Department completes the issue with a reflection on monuments and memory in Venice.
Gene Ray (HEAD – Genève, HES-SO)
Photo caption: Bronze statue of slave trader and Tory MP Edward Colston tossed in Bristol Harbor by BLM protesters, June 2020. Photo: PA Wire.