The neo-monument : monuments of dissent and their emergence in western culture in the late 20th and early 21st century

Clark, D (2017) The neo-monument : monuments of dissent and their emergence in western culture in the late 20th and early 21st century. PhD thesis, Bath Spa University.

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This research addresses contemporary art practice and the monument in the 21st Century. In doing this, the notion of the monument in this research is considered to be an art object, conceived by artist(s) to memorialise, remind, instruct, or warn the public, as in the original derivation of the word ‘monument’. The late 20th Century started to see, in part, the democratisation of the monument. Here I propose that he traditional monument has always been political and a tool of the ruling elite. However, where previously the ‘Establishment’ influence was absolute, in recent times, some artists have sought creative space to place more controversial work in the public arena. Released from the restraints of authority, new monuments have been created that question the vicissitudes of our existence and it is this field of artistic practice that is the central issue in this research. Unlike monuments of the past, although they might have sprung from an historical event, these new monuments are less about memorial and more about the present. Often they ask demanding questions of our culture, our governments and of us, the people. Significantly, they are ‘monuments of dissent’ and because of their rejection of the status quo, it is proposed here that they should be termed ‘Neo-Monuments’. Whereas traditional monuments were normally to be found on the street, in the square or park, these spaces have now been augmented by an increasing number of publicly accessed galleries. We will see that there is now a more open-minded approach to critical, questioning even provocative monuments, and that we are seeing them both in galleries and in the public milieu. It will be argued that they are however still viable forms of communication. This research is informed by the creation, exploration, experimentation and analysis of my own art practice. Conclusions gained from this practice will be used to inform this research. Additionally, case studies of other artists engaged with the form and development of the neo-monument will be analysed to understand their rationale, and from this to determine what sets their work apart and allows them to be regarded as a neo-monument. This research will reflect on art-monuments created from the last quarter of the 20th Century until the present.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)

Thesis supervised by Dr. Graham McLaren.

Keywords: 20th century art, 21st century art, contemporary art, monuments, installation art, memorials, national heritage, public art, subculture, neo-monuments, public art, art galleries, case studies, visual communication
Divisions: Bath School of Art, Film and Media
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Date Deposited: 29 Nov 2017 11:18
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2023 13:33
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