"Monumentomania", as befits an exhibition presenting monuments, does not fit entirely under the roof. It also takes place in a small public square in the city center. There are seven prototypes of monuments created for the WARSAW UNDER CONSTRUCTION festival. "Monumentomania" is therefore a postulate - a call to erect new monuments - rather than a diagnosis of the current situation.
But why construct more monuments? And who needs another exhibition about them? Aren’t monuments obsolete? And most of all: in light of all the conflicts erupting over monuments, shouldn’t we discard this medium once and for all?
It seems that we can’t just give up on them – the stake is too high. These public media of memory are just as much about the present and about the conceivable futures, as they are about the past. They are just as much about visualizing a set of desirable social roles, ways of understanding the public sphere, power and community, as they are about canonizing a set of heroes, values, and historical events. Paradoxically, in an age dominated by uncountable, elusive and free-floating images, these heavy, static elements of the urban landscape still have the capability of generating strong emotions, of gaining new meanings and unexpected agency.
It is then not only the ‘content’ of monuments that is important, but also their forms. Pedestals, bronze, enormous figures are ways of establishing a relation between the public and history. They don’t leave much space for dialogue, coercing us into consent and acceptance. A past, represented by static, unattainable stone figures, is in many ways supposed to be just like them – unambiguous, individualistic, authoritative. It’s a history supposedly shaped by outstanding, unwavering heroes and breakthrough events. That is why it would not be enough to use the form of the traditional monument to memorialize even the most progressive and revolutionary male and female heroes, who fought in the name of emancipatory values. The available pedestals and mold structures will simply not accommodate subjects and phenomena from outside of the traditional canon. Subjects (or rather communities) and events (or rather processes) that have hitherto not been represented in the monumental canon need formulas corresponding to their qualities.
Karolina Brzuzan, Róża Duda i Michał Soja, Piotr Łakomy, Olga Micińska, Dominika Olszowy, Daniel Rycharski, Łukasz Surowiec.
Józef Gałązka, Karolina Gołębiowska, Daniel Malone i Stanisław Welbel, Gizela Mickiewicz, Jan Możdżyński, Franciszek Orłowski, Witek Orski, Krzysztof Pijarski, Liliana Piskorska, Aleka Polis, Alicja Rogalska, Szymon Rogiński, Daniel Rumiancew, Anna Shimomura, Łukasz Skąpski, Zbiorowy Collective.
Łukasz Zaremba, Institute of Polish Culture, University of Warsaw / Szymon Maliborski, Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw