The work consists of a series of five landscape models of existing parks and five representations of monuments in those parks from the five countries that originated the Nonaligned Movement in 1961; India, Indonesia, Egypt, Ghana and former Yugoslavia. A series of small drawings and didactic material will accompany the sculptural installation. The landscape models each contain a miniature monument, appropriately scaled. These tiny monuments could be moved around from one landscape model to another by visitors, and in so doing, performing the idea of free movement between different locations. The five large scale sculptures of the monuments are mounted on wheels pointing to the idea of mobility.
In the center of the group of drawings is an image of the five founders of the movement; Nehru, Sukarno, Nasser, Nkrumah and Tito at the first meeting. This image is surrounded by various meticulously drawn world maps at various historical moments showing European colonial “possessions” up to the pre-1989 bi-polar world to which the Nonaligned Movement proposed an alternative.
This project brings forward the concept of free movement at a time when Europe is struggling with migration from its former colonies due to war, economic deprivation and climate change. It also makes visible a twentieth century socio-political idea for international cooperation among those former colonies in the face of Cold War militarism. Although the Nonaligned Movement did not succeed it remains an important example with relevance to our contemporary moment. As we struggle with extremism and polarization the Nonaligned Movement’s idea of cooperation and development outside of the status quo power structures can be useful. The work is itself a model (or series of models) and through referencing the past it points to the need for new models, alternatives and imagination.
All of the monuments depicted in PNMFM are dedicated to national sovereignty, independence struggles or to the Nonaligned Movement itself. Some of them, however, were originally built for other purposes. In the case of India, the monument now dedicated to the independence struggle was originally built by the British Raj to commemorate Queen Victoria. PNMFM makes reference to historical precedents like Leandro Katz’s Dislocation and Relocation of Monuments (1972), a conceptual proposal for the movement of an obelisk across time and space. It also proposes the movement of monuments by people and social movements rather than by Imperial force. It is opposed to the pillaging of artifacts during the colonial period, like the removal of Egyptian obelisks to the capitals of Europe and the U.S. in the 19th century.
PNMFM is the latest iteration of an ongoing series of “Proposals for Monuments”, a series begun in 1999 with Proposal for Monument, Altamont Raceway. It also continues a series of projects engaged with the post-colonial period, the Nonaligned Movement and the intertwining of cultural production within independence struggles. This series started with Invisible Surrealists (2014) dedicated to the artists from the Caribbean, Africa and Asia that were both part of the surrealist movement and leaders in their own liberation struggles against French imperialism. Other projects have taken up the Bandung Conference and Meiji period Japanese power struggles with Europe and the US.