Spectres of the Past, Inhabitations of the Present’: Jochen Gerz’s Public Monuments'

Kear, Jon (2009) Spectres of the Past, Inhabitations of the Present’: Jochen Gerz’s Public Monuments'. In: Lamberti, Eleanora and Fortunati, Vita, eds. Memories and Representations of War: The Case of World War I and World War II. Textxet Studies in Comparative Literature . Rodopi, Netherlands, pp. 33-49. ISBN 9789042025219. (Access to this publication is restricted)

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Abstract

This essay is about two commemorative projects by the German conceptual artist Jochen Gerz,‘The Invisible Monument at Saarbrücken' or 'The 2,146 Stones Against Racism' as it later became known, and ‘The Monument Against Fascism, Injustice and Racial Hatred." It examines the politics and ethics of Gerz’s approach to making public commemorative work and his opposition to traditional form of the monument as an imposing and durable public representation of or statement about past events. It explores the way Gerz’s ‘monuments’ insist upon their non-identity and insufficiency and refuse to perform the role normally accorded to the monument. I examine the history behind the making and reception of the two works in question, locating them within the broader debates that informed the history of monument building in Germany in from the 1970s on. I explore the recourse to an aesthetics of the void and self-effacement among contemporary German artists, in which the eternal, static form characteristic of traditional commemorative memorial is in their work inverted and negated and the responsibility for collective memory thrown back on to the spectator. The central argument is about isolating the theory of responsibility and ethical imperative of Gerz’s work. This is part of ongoing work I am doing on Gerz and which is leading to other publication and conference papers.

Item Type: Book section
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of Arts > History and Philosophy of Art
Depositing User: Jon Kear
Date Deposited: 10 Oct 2012 20:14
Last Modified: 11 Jul 2014 13:08
Resource URI: http://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/31510 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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