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11 Jun 2009

Monumentalismus at Autocenter, Berlin

© Renzo Martens, still from 'Episode III - Enjoy Poverty', 2008

MONUMENTALISMUS (One's History is Another's Misery)


Dates: 12 June - 12 July
Open: Wed - Sat 3 to 6 p.m.

49 1799129684

Eldenaerstrasse 34A
10247 Berlin
Entrance via James-Hobrecht Strasse

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Leo Asemota, Lonnie van Brummelen / Siebren de Haan,  Jeremiah Day, Gert Jan Kocken, Renzo Martens, Sarah Ortmeyer.

Curated by Jelle Bouwhuis.

Opening Performance '1-2-3-4' by Jeremiah Day - 12 June at 8.30 p.m.

The point of departure for the exhibition 'Monumentalismus (One's History is Another's Misery)' is the concept of the monumental, or the monument, as a symbol and record of a specific history – a history which nonetheless gets interpreted differently through the passage of time. Monuments were erected primarily for the purpose of 'nation building', which involves the creation and validation of a collective, shared identity within particular national boundaries. Beginning in the 19th century specific events which were definitive for that identity took on mythic proportions, and that mythology still lives in the form of collective memory, certainly in Europe and the United States.

But in the post-colonial era, with streams of migrants coming to the West from all corners of the world, it is becoming increasingly clear that historical identities as they have been handed down to us, and with them the idea of separate, well-defined nation states, are being undermined (however much nationalistic movements may try to deny it). In the words of T.J. Demos, 'the refugee represents 'the paradigm of a new historical consciousness', particularly because with that figure, we glimpse a future beyond the nation-state and its destructive exclusion of non-citizens' (Demos, citing Giorgio Agamben, in Altermodern catalogue, p. 76). In other words, what a nation state embodies in symbolism and collective identity generally also has a negative version for those who stand, or stood, outside this symbolism and identity.

'Monumentalismus (One's History is Another's Misery)' is an exhibition with artists who, in their work, focus attention on specific histories and events that are part of collective identities, as in monuments, but which have this reverse side, positive or negative, integral to it.

Kindly supported by the Mondriaan Foundation