Public Art as Public Authorship: Jochen Gerz’s Future Monument

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As Historic Event: the cultural event here marked is the Phoenix Initiative regeneration, and yet rather than the Future Monumentbeing a self-contained work of art (whose source of significance is its visual appearance), it stands as a symbolic question mark. The past enemies who are now friends: Why did they become enemies? Are they true friends? Could they become enemies again? There are past enemies and current friends of which we are perhaps unaware. The work, rather than marking the culmination of an event, acts as a marker for absent dialogues, repressed or imprisoned by official histories. Its questions are quiet but provocative and makes potentially difficult references to unresolved historical tensions, or even traumatic memories. WWII is still a powerful component in British national identity, and still a source of historical trauma and morbid fascination for the British public. Future Monumentproblematises this memory by admixing names of former colonies, and references to the present ethnic heterogeneity of ‘the British’.

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