Revisionist Histories : Parallels of Monuments and Absence in the Present

Scott Craft
Critic: Amy Kulper
Thesis Spring 2020
Rhode Island

Monuments represent long-standing, ingrained social relations and beliefs. Monument architecture can also represent histories of significant, world-changing social and political events. One set of religious and cultural beliefs and practices alters and even eventually replaces another. Once accepted traditions of inherited political authority represented by emperors and monarchies are reformed, even rejected and overthrown by principles of human equality and the rights of all people. Constructs of racial and gender supremacy and authority are challenged, modified and overthrown by those considered inferior . Such social and political transformations challenge existing constructs while also using them in new transformative ways. The established and the new are intersectional and result in transformation of both. Monarchy becomes celebrity without political power, while popular elections rule. Women replace men as authority figures. Blackness and queerness become identities and sources of personal power. Similarly, “new” architectural design philosophies and productions challenge existing design systems while often using the existing design traditions in transformative ways. Steel infrastructure replaces masonry construction reducing masonry to decoration. The technology of glass skins transforms external walls . When selected histories of social and political transformations are meshed with transformative design concepts then “new” monumental architecture can be created to memorialize the events. New monumental architecture will represent what is absent from the existing monument -- what history, what past culture, and what alternative history is not represented and what monument design will capture the negative.

RISD Grad Show 2020