In 2001 Paul Gough staged parallel exhibitions of large drawings (representations of monuments and other icons of commemoration) in two venues separated by a tract of dockland water. The intention was to offset these works against each other, and in doing so consciously reference the commemorative landscape of Gallipoli, western Turkey, where Sir Frank Burnett’s post-Great War imperial, neo-classical monuments are contested by figurative Turkish memorials. High on the peaks above Anzac Beach each commemorative work remains oblivious to the claims of the other, each speaking a history, each vying for the higher ground and the moral ascendancy, and each pronouncing their ‘unique’ message as a set of parallel monologues.
In one of the gallery spaces – a concourse leading to two cinemas – the artist built a ‘faux cenotaph’, a two-dimensional monument, which he intended to adorn during the course of the six-week show. It was constructed as a work about commemoration rather than as a commemoration in itself. However, due to the particular circumstances of its timing, coinciding as it did with the bombing of Afghanistan by America and its allies following the Twin Towers terrorist act in New York on September 11th 2001, it took on an unanticipated function. It became a temporary version of what the Germans call a ‘Denkmalen’: a monument that stands as a warning, causing us to meditate on the mistakes of the past, and hopefully to mend our ways. It also became a locus for numerous expressions of protest.
peace, guerrill memorials, counter-monuments, drawings, war, 9/11, Afghanistan war