Intervention in Public Space

Public Space and its Relation to Counter Memory


Monuments and memorials are designed to structure and shape public memory and historical narratives. They are an expression of social and political power, deliberating an ideological, economic, and political message across many registers. Monuments and memorials define identity, history and the use of public space. They often generate conflicts, in part because they are selective in remembering and ready to forget.

The term counter-monument or Gegendenkmal has emerged following WWll in Germany as an opposition to traditional monumentality and a way of introducing new conceptions of memorialization: those that counter traditional principles, and those that are considered to oppose the existing monument and the ideologies it represents.

Taking Jochen Gerz’s project 63 Jahre danach / 63 years after  (at the Burgtor city gate in Graz) as a case study, we will examine, analyse and open a set questions:

What exactly is public space today?
How is public space changing?
Are public spaces taking different forms then before?
Do we today have a single conception of the public?

How can a memorial be conceptualized today?
What happens to events and memories that are not part of public memory and public history?
How should we consider a monument that does not exist anymore and cannot participate in the circulation of representations?

This course combines theory and practice and will be taught through research, workshops, reading groups, (guest) lectures, interviews and excursions.