#modifystatues

On the global protests after George Floyd’s murder
June 2020

We’ve been working on mapping how images around our cities impact our sensitivity through subliminal messages constantly bombarding our perception. It’s a project on billboards and faces (Look at me: https://ponsverhoog.org/visual-perception/). At the present moment, when people are putting monuments of the colonial slave trade representatives down, and performing actions to demand their removal, we decided to participate in pointing out the wicked persistence of this three dimensional figures.

The consequences of these silent visual pervasive commemorations of the violence of slavery and domination are deplorable, they affect subjects at every step near them. Such statues spit out the dominant discourses of euro-centrism, white washing the crimes, the fortunes, the responsibilities. How is it possible that the guys who most did to eradicate entire populations are on a pedestal? The message imposed is still the discovery of the new world, or that of bravery, not the genocide of the native, nor the enslaving. Removing these monuments is a right on the basis of justice, decency and communal living.

Statues as visual pollution?

Questions like how do we feel when we walk by arise. A stab-wound? pain, rage, humiliation, shame, revenge, unfriendliness, indifference, nothingness, stiffness, pride, rightness, sense of belonging?… ignorant, uninformed, oblivious?

The problem with the hurtful truth they portray is its willful ignorance, removing the statues is a way to make things right, but not sufficient. Without ethical accountability of the responsibilities in “othering” the subjugated, in a few generations the silence imposed by white washing history would be complete.

Can we scale up the protests?

 

At the scale of local governments, this moment demands action once and for all. It’s not acceptable to remain silent, or to make public statements of empty speech. The practice of putting down statues has a long historic tradition that can be traced as far back as 1871, with the demolishment of the Vendomme Column in Paris, that was traded as a monument to barbarism, militarism, as well as a denial of international law.

Since the painter Gustave Courbet was held responsible for the events many artists have pointed at this glorification of crime and tyranny.

A situated move for governments would be to assign to artists the mission of transforming them into decolonial monuments.

Commitment by artists and activists

 

There are many references of artists works and activist actions resignifying monuments. We selected a couple of them:
Daniela Ortiz, Réplica (2014-2015). http://angelsbarcelona.com/en/artists/daniela-ortiz/projects/replica/484
Anti-colonial Monuments, 2018. http://angelsbarcelona.com/en/artists/daniela-ortiz/projects/anti-colonial-monuments/864
#EsclavitudSinComillas: https://padlet.com/antoniolopez/esclavitudsincomillas

Spread the movement

 

We proposed to take action via an Instagram and Facebook open call (17/6/2020):

https://www.instagram.com/p/CBigfylh5W2/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Let’s take advantage of their visibility imagining ways to modify their presence.
The actions with paint, graffitis and signs are a great move after which plaques have to be installed commemorating the people denouncing its public exhibition, and informing about its meaning. Let’s reshape the commons!
Spread your ideas with an image of the statue, the name of the perpetrator, the hashtag #modifystatues, and the hashtag of the city where they belong.Spread your ideas with an image of the statue, the name of the perpetrator, the hashtag #modifystatues, and the hashtag of the city where they belong.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CBig9oNBBLL/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Cristopher Columbus was depicted as a prominent figure and successful conqueror in school books until 2020, when this statue was turned upside down to show the persistence of coloniality. Every 12th of October, Spain celebrated the “Dia de la Hispanidad” as a national conquest, while indigenous people gathered around the statue to denounce that the genocide of their people was nothing to commemorate. The so called for centuries “discovery of America” was an atrocity that killed and submitted entire populations, imposing the conquerors rules, language, religions and costumes.
#modifystatues #columbus #ßarcelona #artforchange #blacklifesmatter