Before listening to Professor Jeffrey Schnapp’s lecture, I never really paid much attention to monuments, they were simple landmarks, large markers that were well sculpted or nice to look at. However, now, after the lecture I can’t pass a statue or a memorial without thinking to myself ” what does this mean?” and “does it still belong here?”
While monuments are obviously connected to important moments in history, that people whoose to immortalize, Schnapp argues that many monuments have outstayed their welcome, that they are irrelevant to the living. While monuments speak a language and send a message, monuments are fundamentally at odds with life and those currently occupying the space.Schnapp stated that architecture is meant to service the living, not the dead; essentially comparing monuments to tombstones invading living spaces. The needs of the living has also transformed the concept of a monument. For example, after the boom of the Industrial Revolution, vehicles and ships became the main architecture, expressions of the steel age, not the stone age.
While Schnapp brings up all of these points, he also addresses that monuments are not useless. Monuments are an amazing way for history to live on, for their to be memory of a past time, it is just best if they service the living. For example, the Monument to Victory, which was erected by Mussolini’s fascist regime in 1928 in Bolzano, Italy shows how monuments can be repurposed. The monument, which became an embarrassment to the country after World War II dues to it’s heavy ties to fascism, was renovated by Schnapp and his team. The monument, which has four large decorated columns, is a large symbol for fascist architecture. To bring this monument into the future, Schnapp and his crew added a three banded LED ring around the third column. While many were upset by this addition, for many reasons, including that it looks out of place, Schnapp was able to combine the digital age and the stone age, bring it into the future. Now, the monument, which was widely ignored a decade ago, now has tens of thousands of visitors annually; showing that the living will come if there a reason for them to be there.
Overall, what I learned most for this lecture is that while monuments are meant to commemorate the dead, they should also have a purpose for the living. I also realized that monuments need to be more than something to look at, they should be interactive and educational so that they can maintain their meaning and draw in new people to learn from them. There is a place in our world for monuments, but they need to be more than just a hunk of stone, as they will eventually outrun their time.