Introduction – Neo-monumental

photo: Tome Bookshtein

Monuments appear as an inseparable part of urban landscape; an attempt to create gathering points of commemoration and national remembrance. Whether they are sculptural or architectural structures for the public to stand in front of or within, and whether they commemorate wars, triumphs or catastrophes, they are meant to formulate a story that is common for local spectators and communities. They demonstrate an everlasting, unique and sublime presence facing daily urban life or surrounding nature, their durable materiality as if stating “we were always here and will always remain here”, thus form an important pillar in the establishment of every national ethos in general, and the Zionist ethos in specific.

As far as the artists participating in this exhibition are concerned, the above renders monuments as raw material for a contemporary dealing with history, memory, and myth, in a manner that includes an examining of the materiality, form, the experience invoked – an experience that deviates from the premise of the “national’ or the “public” and is rooted in the personal and the everyday in spatial perception and in the field of vision stamped by their presence.

The works in the exhibition are presented in parallel to collections and archival material related to the planning of monuments and their popular representations. The monument might be perceived as eternal and unchanging, however the exhibition also includes commemoration site memorabilia, plans for monuments that were not realised, and documentation of imperial monuments preceding the forming of the state of Israel: monuments that did not last, failed to attain uniqueness, and have consequently become forgotten or pushed out of historical narrative.

This examination of monuments – what are they actually, what concrete and ideological materials are they assembled from, and what kind of relationships do we form with them – is the beginning of a critical move in relation to their presence in the public sphere, and an opening for a complex assessment of their socio-political meaning.

Curator: Udi Edelman


English Translation: Avi Pitchon

This exhibition was developed in the framework of Yael Messer and Udi Edelman’s ongoing research into the issue of monuments and memorials in the Middle-East.