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