The Open Academy lecture series examines sculpture as such and her role in the fields of law, religion, politics, and conflict.
Thursday, March 15, 2012, 7 p.m.
Thursday, March 22, 2012, 7 p.m.
Thursday, March 29, 2012, 7 p.m.
Power seeks that which is steadfast in order to validate itself. Statues are often national images. Statues stand for community, decree, and controlled territory. They are symbols of political self-assertion, especially in public spaces. They mark squares, significant urban points, and political systems of rule. Once erected they serve timeless demonstration, emphasizing unbreakable standing. But what does the representation of power look like today? Are statues democratically justifiable? Does the consistency of their appearance not go against the rapid movement of present-day traffic and communication? And are monuments still suited to the authoritative cult in the age of streaming?
Statues stand in the way; they are settlements. Through their physical presence they initiate the examination of being, endangerment, and existence. As they want to rescue power from time, they also become the target of other violence, of aggression, resistance, and destruction. Precisely because they pour the rigid spirit of immutability into sculpted spatial influence, the angel of history who, in hindsight, only sees rubble as Walter Benjamin said, brushes past them. What they want to be, steady and timeless, is violently snatched from them under revolutionary conditions. Incendiaries, holes, and ruins remain from the mortal fright of the Middle Ages to the destructiveness of the Taliban.
With his monumental figure Vater Staat, which can be seen in Cologne’s Museum Ludwig in the exhibition Before the Law, Thomas Schütte makes reference to the notion of power. The abstract idea of the State becomes a portrait-like figure in his work. At the same time, Vater Staat remains a precarious symbol: It displays fierce incorruptibility and coldness as well as individual traits and the notches of history.
In three lectures, State of Statues deals with the state of images, their role in the fields of law, religion, politics, and conflict.
Lecturer: Thomas D. Trummer curates the exhibit Before the Law with Kasper König at the Museum Ludwig in Cologne. Prior to this he was the curator of visual arts at the Siemens Stiftung in Munich, curator at the Belvedere in Vienna, and visiting curator at the Grazer Kunstverein. He has published many texts on contemporary art and aesthetics.
Thomas Schütte, Vater Staat, 2011, steel, Height 383 cm, courtesy the artist
Photo: Achim Kukulies, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2011