STATEMENT : «Monuments» (2003)

I try to make a new kind of monument. A precarious monument. A monument for a limited time. I make monuments for philosophers because they have something to say today. Philosophers can give the courage to think, the pleasure to reflect. I like the strong sense in philosophical writings, the questions about human existence and how humans can think. I like full-time thinking. I like philosophy, even when I don’t understand the third part of their reflexion. I’m interested in non-moralist, logical, political thinking. I’m interested in ethical questions. That’s why I chose philosophers to make Monuments. But the monuments for these philosophers are conceived as community commitments in contrast to the altars which are personal commitments. Something beautiful that humans beings are capable of, is thinking, is reflection, the ability to make brains work. Spinoza, Deleuze, Gramsci and Bataille are examples of thinkers who instil confidence in the reflective capacities. They give forces to think. They give forces to get active. I think that reading their books continues to make sense, to give questions, to reflect, to keep beauty vital. The monuments have two parts or even more. The « classical-part », a form, they reproduce the thinker with his features, head or body. This part of the monument is a statue. Then, there is another part of the monument : books, video tapes, statements, biographical documents are there to be consulted. This is a new part of that monument. It is the « information-part ». The « information-part » with his materials respond to « why ». The « classical » statue part responds to « who ».The information part of the monument is a physical place to isolate oneself, to sit down, in a little construction (like in the kiosk project) and to study and get informed about the philosophers work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week . This construction with the documentation about the philosophers is a proposition to bring public access to everyone : for those who have never been in contact with philosophy, but also for those who are « professionals », specialists, philosophers or amateurs. I want to give equal access to both. I want to give the possibility to first be in contact with the information, to read about the work, the philosophy, and then afterwards to see the statue. I want to give a diverse access to the monument. Thus, the monument is not just standing there, but wants to offer the possibility to be informed about its’ meaning and furthermore about the thinking of those philosophers. There is an active and a passive part. The plastic aspect of the monument is precarious : cardboard, wood, tape, garbage bag covering, neons. It means : the monument will not stay here for eternity. This monument does not come from above. It will not intimidate. It is made through admiration, it comes from below. In this way, it shows its’ precariousness and its’ limitation in time. It is enforcing the precarious aspect of the monument. It conveys the idea that the monument will disappear, but what shall remain are the thoughts and reflections. What will stay is the activity of reflection.

The four monuments are for Spinoza, Deleuze, Gramsci and Bataille. I made the « Spinoza-Monument » in a street in the Red Light district in Amsterdam in 1999, the « Deleuze-Monument » was built in a public housing space, Cité Champfleury, in Avignon in spring 2000. And I made « Bataille-Monument » in “Friedrich-Wölher Siedlung”, in Kassel, during Documenta 11, in 2002.

T.H. February 2003