Is a new monumentality possible today?
What are the forms it could take?
MONUMENTALITY is the property of an artistic image related to the aesthetic category of the sublime.
Its content is socially relevant and expressed as a large sculptural form
imbued with heroic and epic themes that affirms positive ideal.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia
It seems that the concept of monumentality is entirely obsolete in this day and age.
The history of monuments has fallen into the past.
Instead of monuments, we have theme parks: multimedia spectacles that are from time to time commissioned from famous artists and architects
in order to commemorate some agreed-upon historical fact.
These spectacles have neither formal innovation, nor do they depict heroes who have accomplished ‘great feats,’ only innocent victims, reminding us “Never Again…”
There are also different performative anti-monumental practices performed by a number of mostly marginalized groups (artist included); they tend to be interventions with already existing monuments.
Often, they mock them, or question their validity, re-codifying and destroying their image in the urban space and in the common memory of communities.
Naturally, the government relapses into archaic habits, casting things in bronze, casts them out of marble, and erecting these monsters in the centers of their decaying power. There’s almost no arguing that monumentality in its classic, elevated forms has saturated, and today’s citizens live surrounded by monumental symbols that have been drained of meaning, obsolete rituals of living memory.
But is this really the case?
And is it important to preserve any part of this most important tradition?