For the last two years, the Nonument Group has researched and intervened into the changed circumstances of twentieth-century architecture and monuments. We defined nonuments as twentieth-century architecture, monuments, public spaces and infrastructural projects that have lost or undergone a shift in symbolic meaning as a consequence of political and social changes. We unveiled a wealth of stories from the past, physical remains and intangible traces, as well as many absurdities of the present, unseen ideological forces and newly formed fascinations.
The neologism Nonument denotes negation; but there are as many ways to negate an existing structure as there are possible affirmations of it. Sometimes both can be present at the same time, for example in a case of a botched renovation project or a misguided fetishization of a ruin. But a fact remains that our cultural bias is leaning toward the affirmative action: predominantly we research what is built, what is articulated and what is planned. However, we lack the resources and concepts to reveal the same vividness in the negation: of what was abandoned, discarded, destroyed or recontextualised.
First two years of The Nonument project were an attempt to breach this bias. We have opened a field of inquiry that doesn’t only observe and depict decaying architecture (there is an abundance of such websites and projects around) but also critically engages with the past and the present of these objects and the stories that lurk behind. In a way, a nonument is always more about the now than it is about the past. We want to address commodification, fetishization and destruction of memory, public spaces and buildings, as much as we want to engage with their histories. But now, it is time to reflect and regroup. And, above all, to ask others what they think. We want to offer an opportunity to publish reflections and interventions on nonuments and spatial negations that might have escaped our radar or that can enrich and change our initial concepts and queries. Such questions might include but are not limited to:
We welcome a wide range of contributions:
We are looking forward to think Nonument! with you.
Photo: Marcel Gautherot: Brasília, 1959
Saturday, November 16 at 3 pm
We meet at the Cooper Union Foundation Building (E 7th Street, New York, NY) and walk to Washington Square Park
to visit the McKeldin Fountain
On Saturday, November 16, we are presenting Nonument01: McKeldin Fountain at the Creative Time Summit X: Speaking Truth in New York! The McKeldin Fountain will take over Washington Square Park.
The Creative Time Summit is an annual convening for thinkers, dreamers, and doers working at the intersection of art and politics. This year, Speaking Truth | Summit X explores radical truth-telling and its implications, manifestations, potentialities, and challenges across disparate yet interconnected fields.
The final day of the Summit features more than 30 breakout sessions, which are a series of highly interactive events geared towards engaged and alternative learning. Led by artists, organizations, collectives, and grass-roots movements, Summit X Sessions take various creative formats and include walking tours, hands-on workshops, panel discussions, roundtables, training sessions, interactive performances, film screenings, and other community-driven, strategy-focused formats. Sessions were both selected through an open call process and organized by the Creative Time team, intending to offer spaces for exchange and share practical tactics that make creative praxis possible.
More about Nonument01:McKeldin Fountain
Creative Time Summit X
DEVELOPED WITH SYOWIA KYAMBI IN COLLABORATION WITH OSLO KUNSTFORENING AND GOETHE INSTITUT
19 OCTOBER – 19 NOVEMBER
In October and November I am part of the Carrying Histories residency in Oslo. The residency explores personal and cultural histories through process and discussion. Unpacking the burden of working with historical material, it aims to build cross cultural awareness of past and present power structures. Conversations developed within the residency group will be presented to Oslo audiences through a series of public events. This residency is open to anyone with relevant interest and experience in the topic, be they artist, curator, writer, anthropologist, historian, educator, dancer etc.
In articulating her thoughts for the residency, Syowia Kyambi (KE) writes “I enter the world as this, how will I leave it? We carry our histories on our backs, hunched over and barely heard, constantly swimming against the stream. The body is a site of trauma. The body holds, codes and re-codes, sharing a multitude of layered stories. Body memory expresses itself in a non-linear timeline, presenting pasts beyond our experienced past resulting in repeated onslaught of distress. Collective history weaves a web in the memory of our contemporary bodies. We still live in sexist and racist environs, and so are bound to navigate the nuances of identity.
The history of where our bodies come from is a crucial element to my making process. We have to go into the nuances of identity and one way that we can do that is through the methodology of ‘autohistoria’. Coined by Gloria Anzaldúa, autohistoria involves “outlining the potential of plural, ambivalent, unstable, and performative expressions of the self, so as to allow for the dissemination of personal, depolarized narratives” (Pg. 155. Kaila, Jan, Anita Seppä and Henk Slager. Futures of Artistic Research: At the Intersection of Utopia, Academia and Power. Helsinki: Academy of Fine Arts, Uniarts Helsinki, 2017). To repeat, reuse, rewrite and layer creates rituals which resist the normative narratives that support exploitive power structures.
I am interested to continue to develop the tools I use to re-appropriate and reclaim autonomy through the body, performance, and sharing processes with others, and to learn from the toolkits that others bring to the residency.
See more information about the residency
and the ten participating artists here.
ABOUT SYOWIA KYAMBI //Kyambi’s practice probes issues of race, perception, gender and memory. Her work examines how contemporary human experience is influenced by constructed histories, creating installations that include a performative practice to narrate stories and activate objects, exploring cultural identities, linking them to issues of loss, memory, race, and gender.
More information is available at www.syowiakyambi.com.
A performative sound walk at the former tracks of Ljubljana's Pioneer Railway
Location: the former Pioneer Railway tracks, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Dates: 25 May 2019 at 9 pm
Comissioned by: MoTA – Museum of Transitory Art; in collaboration with Lightning Guerilla
The Nonument Group’s second action will take place on the location of the former Pioneer Railway that operated between 1948 and 1954. On 25 May 2019, an artistic intervention will revive the children’s railway that almost completely disappeared from the city and public memory.
The idea for children’s railways, or pioneer railways as they were called at the time, originated in the USSR and spread quickly over the Eastern Bloc, from China to Cuba. Children’s railways are fully operational smaller-scale railways that “have a track gauge of at least 600 mm and can carry full size narrow gauge rolling stock.” They are a peculiar kind of extracurricular institutions: children perform all the professions, except for train driving, under the supervision of adult railway workers. Ljubljana’s railway was built by Yugoslav youth brigades between March and June 1948. Initially, it was very popular, but the public quickly lost interest, so it was finally closed down in 1954. While the rail tracks were removed almost immediately, some of the train stations along the line remained in place for many years after the railway ceased to operate, but were mostly left to decay or were repurposed and renovated. Nevertheless, one can still find some remains along the former children’s railway line. Part of the line is now a bicycle lane, and an eager observer can spot some of the remaining marker stones along the way.
Nonument Group’s intervention envisions a multidisciplinary approach joining research based practice with elements of performance, narration, visual and sound elements. The intervention, addressing themes of memory and erasure in relation to infrastructure and ideology takes shape of a performative light and sound walk on the former tracks of the Pioneer Railway.
5–7 APRIL 2019, EVERY DAY AT 15:30
TATE MODERN, Tate Exchange, Blavatnik Building, Level 5
As part of Tate Exchange at Tate Modern Winchester School of Art presents a three-day program titled "Itinerant Objects". I am invited as a guest artists with Opium Clippers, along with Liang Mingyu, a fashion designer based in Chongqing, China, who will present textile workshops based upon ‘Masi Mara’, a life-size elephant crafted from recycled material, helping to open up debate about environmental aesthetics.
I’ll be presenting shorter essays with tea ceremonies on Friday and Saturday 5-6 April, and the full Opium Clippers on Sunday, 7 April, starting at 3:30 pm.
I hope to see you!
ITINERANT OBJECTS at TATE
WITH WINCHESTER SCHOOL OF ART
Bring and curate your own objects, and be part of a collective exploration of how things move and exchange
Itinerant Objects welcomes you to bring, place and move objects upon a journey and to reflect upon where those journeys might lead. Objects come to places and go to places. In their transformations and exchange they become new things, take on new meanings, and create new situations. Historically we have traded objects upon the Silk Road, which moved goods en masse, but also gave rise to many individual stories across the world. These routes and stories are today re-envisaged on a large scale with China’s One Belt One Road initiative, but also re-considered and re-ordered through countless micro-exchanges and through creative practices.
Drawing on the experience of a range of arts-based research, Winchester School of Art invites you join in with a series of activities led by artists, academics, and students. Working collaboratively with digital and manual crafting and drawing, with fashion and textiles, and with a radically open form of curation, participants are encouraged to test, manipulate and assemble constellations of objects across the whole of the Tate Exchange floor. In this way we can share ideas about the stuff that make up our lives. Each day includes workshops from 12pm, and a tea ceremony and guest talks from 3.30pm onwards.
Guest ArtistsLiang Mingyu, a notable fashion designer based in Chongqing, China, will present textile workshops based upon ‘Masi Mara’, a life-size elephant crafted from recycled material, helping to open up debate about environmental aesthetics and our place in a global world of things and beliefs.
Neja Tomsic, Slovenian-based artist and poet, will perform a daily tea ceremony, telling stories based upon the historic Silk Road that help established today’s global infrastructure for movement and exchange.
The project is devised and presented by Reem Alasadi, Jane Birkin, Daniel Cid, Ian Dawson and Sunil Manghani at Winchester School of Art and Paul Reilly in Archaeology, along with Alistair Eales at Trinity Winchester, in collaboration with postgraduate researchers Ana Cavic (with Renée O'Drobinak, aka Ladies of the Press), Panagiotis Ferentinos, Eria Nsubuga, Noriko Suzuki-Bosco, and Lucy Woollett, and fellow academics Feng Jie at Southwest University, China and Zhang Rui, College of Culture of Art, Chengdu University of Information Technology, China.
Itinerant Objects is supported by Southwest University, China, and University of Southampton Confucius Institute. It is a research-led project of the Critical Practice Research Group at Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton.
About Winchester School of ArtWinchester School of Art (University of Southampton) is one of the UK’s leading art and design institutions. With history going back almost 150 years, the School is an international centre for ideas and innovation, committed to offering high quality education and engaging with broader social projects.
Next weekend Tea for Five goes to Nova Gorica as part of the winter book fair Novoletni knjižni sejem Knjige pod jelkami.
Performances will take place on Friday, 21 December at 3 pm, followed by the Opium Clippers book presentation;
and on Saturday, 22 December at 11 am and 3 pm. To attend, please reserve your spot at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are closing the Opium Clippers exhibition with these three ceremonies. These are also the final events of my October/November Opium Clippers tour. From 6 October on, we traveled to Treviso, Vienna, London, Barcelona, Zagreb, Podgorica and Cetinje; and had, meanwhile, launched the Opium Clippers book at the Fotografija gallery in Ljubljana, and at Pločnik in Zagreb, won two awards, and opened an exhibition in Nova Gorica. I thank everyone who hosted me with all my heart. And above all, Rostfrei Publishing, that made the Opium Clippers book a reality. See you next year!
The book ‘Opium Clippers’ received an award for the Best Designed Book 2018 in the section “book as an object”at Slovenian Book Fair at Cankarjev Dom, Ljubljana. Big thanks also to all involved with the preparation and execution of ‘Opium Clippers‘: Jaka Babnik, Ana Čavić, Miha Colner, Tevž Logar, Tomaž Šantl and Galerija Fotografija.
I'm happy to announce that my Opium Clippers book came out in October 2018 at Rostfrei Publishing.
To support the launch, I am doing a fall book Tea for Five. Opium Clippers tour:
Sat, 6 October at 7 pm & Sun, 7 October at 11 am
Post-Colonial Frames at B#S Gallery, TREVISO
Saturday, 13 October at 5 pm
At Brutal Beauty Fall Fest, VIENNA
Saturday, 20 October at 5 pm and 7 pm
At msdm studio-gallery, LONDON
Monday, 29 October at 11 am & 7 pm,
and Tuesday, 30 October at 4 pm & 7 pm
At JIWAR, BARCELONA
7 - 22 December, Carinarnica, Nova Gorica
opening reception: 7 December at 7 pm
Tea for Five: 21 & 22 December
Tea for Five in Zagreb:
9 & 10 December: Jingyuan Teahouse & Aikido Kuca
Hosted by Wadering Art Tea Academy & Živi Atelje DK
Tea for Five in Monte Negro:
12 December National Library in Cetinje
13 December University of Donja Gorica Gallery
Hosted by Institut za Savremenu Umjetnost & Gledališče Glej
And more dates coming soon!