Monumenta Erectum, 2012
12'x8'x2" wall, rope
Monumenta Erectum is a body of work that revolves around the action of erecting a structure. Using the human body as input force and pulley, I want to reflect on the abandoning of the individual to enter the collective.
What space engages the viewer into action?
I remember the awe that Matthew Barney’s Drawing Restraint projects struck me for they achieve in using the body as tool to express the specificity of the architecture it is in. The constituent of the action in Monumenta Erectum is to hold a temporary moment of tension. It is that one decisive moment in construction, the climax during which all the other actions come together to make sense.
When men push or pull, they become diagonals.
In which way can I determine the position the viewers would take to become matter themselves, as it is being put to test?
Positioning myself as creator of these structures, do I play the role of tyrant? Physical experience coalesces with psychological interference, functioning like an imperative controlling the action. The participants are in a way, forced to obey the rules of the structure but at the same time, the structure cannot exist without them.
The fate of construction workers matter to me in that they are bound together as a group and it is in such manner that they are responsible for the shaping of the human world. They realize/materialize human’s hubris, the notable case being the Tower of Babel. Putting together efforts in a vain labour for the yearning for eternity is a hopeless one. The futility of monumentality resides in the fact that it requires a large amount of effort for so little a compensation.
Are workers repetitive units of one and another?
The space of the Monumenta Erectum opens up as a field of experience that reduces and challenges one’s strength. The heaviness of the material, its unbearable physical presence almost overbearing symbolizes in fact the very abstract notion of strength/force/power. Constructions undertaken under a dictatorship differ greatly from constructions conducted under a democracy. The first proposition had been about evening out the participants’ strength in order to collaborate as one in the action. It is an ideological space of unity and sameness. Who does not wish for equality among men? Is it too late to be a communist? What does indifferentiation do to humans as social and cultural barriers break down?
Human bodies become measurable and in measure with all things.
What will happen if a x number of people tries to move a wall? The power of the collective transgresses the laws of immutability. Being thus quantified, we can become a subversive force, destructive more than creative. At the same time, the title refers to a more specific act of “raising a monument”. To whom do we owe our recognition to, great men whose will carved our history or workers whose hands shaped our societies? Ambition and determinism are hand-in-hand drives for action. The great man embody the collective unconsciousness, or shall we say “diverse unconsciousness” to quote Anthony Howell rather than Carl Jung, making History take a leap. However, the coordinated efforts of common people, workers, aliment and enforce the great man’s designs. Power comes through the support of the mass. It is in this way, I wish to meditate on the quest for superiority and the dependency of the individual to the mass.