Researching a monument is more than researching a structure or a building. Monument tells a story of a heritage and interacts with a society around it. To really understand a monument, images and articles on Google are not enough. One has to take a trip. Get on a train, visit the place, move in it and talk to the people surrounding the monument. The content in the website are these knowledges preserved into different forms -photos, videos, text, sketches- open for interpretation and ready for implementation.
Investigating different things a monument can be, and what makes something become a monument.
What is a monument? What is monumentality ? Why does something become a monument ? How big does a monument have to be?
Does a monument have to physically exist?
What’s the link between a monument, its function and its content? What are the responsibilities of a monument when representing the local culture and history? Does a monument need to have a public function?
‘… that’s why it -a monument- was saved and why it could be restored, because there was a public function.’
‘Now that it’s a monument, it had to have a public function.’
‘The term ‘monument’ being used as a way of preserving a building; ‘monument’ not as a way of describing the building initially but transforming it into one (an action without a verb).’
‘But if you had to define the role of this building as a monument what would you say as a Curator?’ ‘ I think the story of the building itself.‘
‘Monuments are in nature iconographic.’
‘Monuments consecrate memory.’
‘A monument may be on different scales.’
‘“A monument is money wasted. My memory will live on if my life has deserved it.”– ‘Pliny the Younger, Ancient Rome, 109 AD.’
‘Monuments may be destroyed.’
Looking at how a monument is influenced by changing time and context.
What is the relation between a monument and its landscape/context?
What does it mean for a monument to travel through different times? How does it mark the past? How is it marked by the past? How does a monument influence today and tomorrow? How is it influenced by today and tomorrow?
Should monuments be everlasting?
‘By adding layers over time, a monument becomes a nuanced collection of the different stages a society has gone through.’
‘Destinies and identities of monuments emerge as much from their histories as the changing meanings and perceptions society imparts on them.’
‘It not only keeps me wondering what the value of the building is, but also what the action of protecting the building can say about the people in that era.’
Understanding how people interact with a monument and its surroundings.
What does it mean to live in a monument? What is it like to take that responsibility? How do the rules around monuments shape people’s lives?
In which way does the function need to relate to the building itself?
How do people inhabit a city as a monument? What significance does the monument have to the people without the content inside?
‘Not to console but to provoke; not to remain fixed but to change; not to be everlasting but to disappear; not to be ignored by its passersby but to demand interaction; not to remain pristine but to invite its own violation and desanctification; not to accept graciously the burden of memory but to throw it back at the town’s feet.’
‘There are many houses -that are monuments- here with very high prices, German tourists come and buy them. They are only here for three months a year. It is not good for the town, it is unbelievable. The young people that grow up here would want to live here, but they can’t. It’s a shame.’
Understanding the different conflicts a monument can cause.
Whose history does a monument tell?
What happens when a particular monument no longer represents a story that society wants to hold in their heritage and public space? Can a monument represent both the past and present people of its place?
‘The discussion around controversial monuments often asks us whether we want to keep or remove a monument. Counter-Monuments include altering a monument in order to show contemporary opinion.’
‘We use the building now, so it needs to deal with time.’
‘It is our current telling of the past that is being debated; how we tell history. The past does not change, but how we tell it does.’
‘Why are origins the only terms by which we choose to see monuments? Why can’t other dimensions – such as appropriation, possession, transformation – be accepted as intrinsic parts of a monument’s evolving history, or even its irrevocable destiny?’
‘A nation can only exist by forgiving their past wrongdoings. Diving deep into the dark side of the past is dangerous for forming a nation.’