Green Art Gallery presents Proposals on Monumentality, group show curated by İpek Ulusoy Akgül, and featuring the work of Aslı Çavuşoğlu, Iman Issa, Christian Jankowski, Amina Menia, Seher Shah and Santiago Sierra.
The exhibition poses a set of questions for us to reflect upon: Can monuments go beyond representing the past and evoking collective memory? Is it possible for them to resist absorption into memorial narratives? How can monuments express fragmentation and forgetting?
Working across different histories and geographies, Proposals on Monumentality offers possible scenarios and alternative perceptions for monuments. Both Christian Jankowski and Aslı Çavuşoğlu make specific references to historical monuments: the former humorously suggests a need to fight or challenge history, while the latter rephrases the fragile story of a long-gone memorial. Similarly, Amina Menia gazes at the often-forgotten (and sometimes ignored or harmed) monuments as she draws on Nietzsche: ‘the past must be forgotten if it is not to become the gravedigger of the present.’ While Seher Shah demonstrates a formal exploration into monumentality through strong visual gestures, Iman Issa and Santiago Sierra present alternative structures through abstracting an existing monument and imagining a new one respectively.
As architecture receives increasing significance in the Gulf, iconic landmark buildings and large-scale museum projects – both agents of urban branding – are popularly described as ‘monuments’. Moreover, the development and redevelopment of cities, in other words constant flux of urban fabric, lead to feelings of dislocation and even spatial amnesia. In light of the region’s changing political context and urban environment, it is much needed to revisit monumentality’s complex relation to memory as well as spatial and political dynamics.