The Statue as public art: Rhodes and our responsibility as makers of meaning

I will weigh in on the Rhodes statue as an artist, as a fervent believer in the power of art in a public space:

Everything is palimpsest, everything is intertextual. What is this reductionist need to destroy, remove, erase? It undermines the power of reappropriation, redefinition and, frankly, creativity that is the right and responsibility of any and every human being living in a complexly historied space – which is ALL spaces.

Con Hill is a great example, as is the Berlin Wall. Graffiti, and any art, is the essence of that creative spirit of rewriting that gives us the agency and power to redefine not only our collective history, but our personal history.

The statue is, after all, only an artwork, one that is defined not in and of itself, but by the people who interact with it. Placing or moving a statue in a private space, like a museum, would do nothing but concretise its meaning, leaving it forever unchallengeable; whereas leaving it in a public space would, and should, enable its audience to redefine it constantly through their interactions with it.

Are we really dictatorial definers of meaning who tear down symbols we don’t agree with, or are we creative agents who have the agency to redefine and rewrite something that has no intrinsic meaning except that which we give it?

(30 March 2015: After much debate and conversation on Facebook and with my friends, and after thinking of very little else since I posted this, I have posted a respectful retraction). 

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One thought on “The Statue as public art: Rhodes and our responsibility as makers of meaning

  1. Pingback: A respectful retraction: The statue as public art #Rhodes | life writ large

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