On November 7, Professor Jeffrey Schnapp delivered a talk about monuments and their place in history. Many monuments can outrun their historical importance and relevance. Depending the original motive behind their creation, even the presence of said monument can stir up conflict between people. The surrounding history begins to shape how the monument is viewed, whether that be good or bad. The monuments themselves can also begin to contrast a more industrialized and urban city. Schnapp mentioned throughout his talk that even monuments created as a symbol of bad things should not be stripped of their architectural significance.
The architecture of a monument allows for an appreciation that is not related to the reason that it was built. It is to appreciate the monument as purely an object. It is important to look at this object as related to other objects in this time, looking as to what may have impacted the decisions of the builder. It is interesting to try and discern what elements are part of a larger piece. Then, objectively, it is also interesting to look at why the monument was built, and what the builder chose to include to express that message. Even in this case, where the message was to convey a fascist presence in this small border town, it is interesting to see what the builder included in the monument to show this. An interesting dichotomy is created when dealing with such oppressive and evil monuments, but there can be an appreciation for this symbol of hate strictly as a work of art.
Although they may not be timely, in respect to their appearance or symbolic meaning, it is important that the history of the piece itself is not forgotten. The message that was initially intended to be passed throughout generations may not be the same, but a message can still be preserved. Schnapp has shown through his efforts that this preservation can be a challenge. One false step and the support of the surrounding community can be lost. This is especially true when dealing with monuments that were built in times of division and war. Any event attached to the monument that either empowers or degrades a particular group of people is likely to cause feelings of contention.
Repurposing monuments can be a tricky process, but the creative solutions can be beneficial to the surrounding community. Schnapp’s story of his project went into detail about the process taken to repurpose the Monument to Victory in Bolzano and turning it into BZ 18’-45’. The project remained a secret for 5 years. It was carefully crafted to stay away from altering the exterior of the monument, but creatively implementing an informative exhibit in the basement that was not previously utilized. The resulting, creative solution repurposed the monument so the surrounding people and visitors to the area could learn the history of the monument and gain an appreciation for it as a piece of architecture. The previous associations are not gone, but the site has been adapted to have a more neutral purpose. Solely that of unbiased information.