“Model for a Monument” (2024) [Eng]

“Model for a Monument” is a series of models – I want to make 5 or 6 models in total – that I started working on in my studio. They will measure approximately 3.60 meters in length by 2.40 meters in width and will be made with the materials and aesthetics that are ‘mine’. I am doing them without a specific exhibition or presentation destination, and certainly not ‘on commission’. Therefore, this work that I began at the end of 2023 is an artistic research project.
What triggered this research was the exhibition in New York celebrating the “10 Years Gramsci Monument” last September at Forest Houses in the Bronx, where I had created the “Gramsci Monument” ten years prior in 2013, with local residents. Furthermore, I was pleased that the initiative for this celebration came from the residents of Forest Houses! In preparation for that day, one of them suggested that I make a model of the “Gramsci Monument” so that it could be better remembered. I immediately found this persuasive, and during summer we created a model of the “Gramsci Monument” in my studio in Aubervilliers to exhibit it on the day of the “10 Years Gramsci Monument-Celebration” (September 16, 2023). This model is now part of the Dia Art Foundation collection in New York.
Happy after this experience and pleased with the reception the model received, I then decided to continue working on the ‘model’ format and apply it to a phenomenon or issue that I increasingly observe and find interesting – the phenomenon or problematic of falling monuments.
The fact that monuments are destroyed, damaged, dismantled, or simply transformed into ruins has indeed existed since monuments were first built. Being aware of this recurring phenomenon is important, but I observe a shortening of the time lapse of the deconstruction effect, and this for multiple reasons. My position on this phenomenon is clear: the course of history that ‘occurs’ is the very expression of what is ‘history’. Because the monuments that must fall are those that were erected to celebrate tyrants, dictators, oppressors, but also all those individuals who initiated actions, perhaps originally extraordinary, that in some way or another have exercised violence that has simply become unjustifiable today (but already was in the past). Besides, my artistic position has always been defined by the assertion that only a monument erected out of love can last forever. That’s why in the past, among other works in public space, I have made a series of 4 Monuments (“Spinoza Monument,” 1999, Amsterdam, “Deleuze Monument,” 2000, Avignon, “Bataille Monument,” 2002, Kassel, “Gramsci Monument,” 2013, New York) – out of love. I made them because I love Spinoza, Deleuze, Bataille, Gramsci; no one asked me to create a monument, for them or one of them. These monuments, along with all my other works in public spaces made so far (in total I did 75 works in public space), are all ‘precarious works,’ that is, interventions – as materialized objects – limited in time. My research and works for “Model for a Monument” are meant to insist – through the form of a model – on the logic of self-disappearance that all monuments carry within themselves, at least those based on power, ideology, domination, or intimidation. Because this logic, this law dictates the fact that sooner or later, they must fall, they must disappear, they will be dismantled. Therefore I want, with “Model for a Monument,” to specify and demonstrate that the logic of destruction of a monument, as described, is already inscribed in its reason for being erected, in its aesthetics, its materiality, its dimension. The 5 or 6 models that I want to do will differ by the extent, by the difference, or gradation of their destruction or overturning: a completely fallen monument, a multiple destruction in several pieces, a still-standing monument ‘sprayed’ or covered with paint, a monument with ‘decapitated’ or ‘amputated’ parts, a monument covered with markings on various material (directly on the monument itself, on cardboard, on fabric), or a combination with different degrees of dismantling. However, I do not want to argue, and I do not want to use ‘current issues’ with their political reasons or journalistic slogans to explain or justify destruction or dismantling, because I want “Model for a Monument” to be convincing through its form alone. I want it to be a work of art – which is art ‘as such’.

The form of a model – well-known and widely used in art – that I use here for “Model for a Monument” in its dystopian scope (because it shows fallen monuments) should allow us to project ourselves into the questioned future, into the questioned ‘what comes’, or into the future to be invented so that another ‘model’ becomes possible, a ‘model’ based on love, real love, whether small or big. It is this ‘model’ that I want to think out, that I want to create, and that I want to contribute to build.

Aubervilliers, January 2024, Thomas Hirschhorn