Monuments

Recorded (via Zoom) July 2, 2020. Sculptors Garth Evans, Jock Ireland, and Brandt Junceau discuss the current crisis surrounding Civil War monuments. (Video by Maud Bryt) Please add your voice to the discussion by making comments in the area lower on the page where it says “Leave a reply.”

Here are some excerpts:

We thought, since we call ourselves the Sculpture Forum, that we should address the issue of monuments—but I am very wary of this hornets’ nest. First of all, we are three, in one case aging, white guys. We are all rather privileged. The bottom line is the topic of monuments is a lightning rod at the moment—and it’s not really a discussion about sculpture. –Garth Evans

The question is: who’s listening?  And how do they hear it?  You can’t ever speak everything to everybody at once. –Brandt Junceau

The point is this is not the moment to discuss monuments in terms of their merits as works of art. They are being discussed in terms of what they represent and what they mean to different people. –Garth

Isn’t all this activity—or whatever it is—around public sculpture at the moment isn’t it maybe a wake-up call to us, to people who think of sculpture as something private. –Jock Ireland

The implication is, or at least what I’m hearing is that we, sculptors—you, me, Brandt—have had our heads in the sand, or somewhere worse, and we need to get them out of the sand and move around and get involved somehow. –Garth

Your head hasn’t been completely in the sand, Garth. –Jock

I am involved. I am implicated. I have not completely had my head in the sand. I produced The Cardiff Project and in my mind it came to be a kind of memorial or monument to the 460 some men and boys who lost their lives in a mining disaster not very far from Cardiff. But I never presented it as such. . . –Garth

It’s lost at the moment that a public artwork, or monument, can mean something very different today from what was originally intended. –Brandt

Holland Cotter was a student of Robert Lowell’s and he’s got to know the Lowell poem, “For the Union Dead,” in which Lowell says that the monument sticks in the city’s throat, that it accuses the society of the mid-‘60s of their racism, their complacency— Lowell understands the polyvalence of an artwork. –Brandt

The Shaw stands out among Saint Gaudens’ Civil War pieces because it satisfies conventions and goes far beyond them. I don’t think that the Sherman monument does. I don’t think the Sherman is a terrific monument. I think that when you’ve got a conventional job to do and you do it within the conventions, which is exactly what society wants at any moment, it’s an astronomically lucky chance that the thing turns out anything more than conventional. –Brandt

To think that the angel is only sentimental is really unpsychological. The idea that there might be anyone at some remove, perhaps above, who wishes us some kind of peace, and wishes for us some kind of oblivion: that our terror won’t go on forever–I think that’s really moving and it would be a terrible loss if Saint Gaudens had yielded to conventional thinking—because that was then advanced conventional thinking—if he had wiped away the angel as advised, it would have been such a loss.  The angel belongs, and I think we still have yet to grow into it. –Brandt

2 thoughts on “Monuments

  1. Moving discussion regarding monuments. The content of the conversation is so important to the moment we are living. And the discussion was most thought provoking and deeply thoughtful. I hope there is a Monuments Part II. Excellent photos that brought the discussion to life. Thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

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