The monuments are built to create a collective memory on certain character or historical fact. They are mostly made of durable materials and are strategically placed in the public space in order to build a narrative of the past, at the present, for the future – a forged memory based on the interests of those in power, on the beliefs and hopes for the future of the state-nation.
Historiography has shown that time is a matter of dispute and memory (or the lacking of it) a strong tool of power. However, there is a part of history that can’t be represented. Shattered in ruins, like archaeological documents, these anti-monuments are what is left from a history that tried to be erased or forgotten. It often finds its place in people’s memory, in their language, gestures, objects and first-person narratives, their witness. As Heiner Müller points out: the dialogue with the dead must not stop until they deliver the future which has been buried with them.
The exhibition takes its title borrowed from a controversial work by Brazilian artist Cildo Meireles done in the context of the Brazilian military dictatorship in 1970. Tiradentes: totem- monument for the political prisoner was a happening held in the week that celebrated the Minas Conspiracy in which the figure of Tiradentes was elected as a national hero by the military government. Even though Tiradentes was tortured and killed by the state he was conspiring against, like many of the leftists during the military dictatorship. The fleeting gesture of Meireles has produced an anti-monument, which left in its ruins, the memory of a violent present; brought death as subject and agent of history. A brutal criticism of a crucial moment in Brazilian history.
The artworks gathered in this show address to the idea of memory and history: its uses, narrative constructions, power plays and representations. The main core of the exhibition is about “confronting the symbolic representations with the realities they represent” (Jacques Legoff) and cast a glance to the past from the very troubled and unclear present.