What Role Public Sculpture Play In The Constructing Notion Of National Identity?

968 words - 4 pages

This essay will examine the role public sculpture plays in the constructing notion of national identity. I will present a selection of public sculptures to demonstrate and critically analyze this statement, looking at the awareness of national identity as it is both influenced by art and influences art itself. Overall the artists that I shall be discussing, in particular to their mentioned works which when cross referenced form an interrelated group not just in context but also in their approach, shall give a three-dimensional insight to the true affect public sculpture plays in the ever-changing notion of national identity.

Firstly we have to question, how do we define national identity? ...view middle of the document...

These works are valuable to examine because they represent both the local importance of exploring the ongoing process of cultural self-definition as well as the forging influence on our national identity.

Identities are formed in relation, if not as a direct result of then in reaction to, a society’s beliefs about their history. Something which the following sculptures suggest more of a challenging stance rather than a reflection of what society identifies itself as. This awareness of our nationality that these sculptures invoke is much as Foucault describes in history of our time, in which he states:

“To be brief, then, let us say that history, in its traditional form, undertook to ‘memorise’ the monuments of the past, transform them into documents, and lend speech to those traces which, in themselves, are often not verbal, or which say in silence something other than what they actually say; in our time, history is that which transforms documents into monuments. In that area where, in the past, history deciphered the traces left by men, it now deploys a mass of elements that have to be grouped, made relevant, placed in relation to one another to form totalities.” [5]

The artists create monuments from ‘documents,’ whether they be historical or contemporary material, while suggesting the personal nature of these new totalities that they have brought into existence. If documents are our societies beliefs in our own nationalism, then in that sense the investigative aspect of these projects can be called challenging. The beliefs of the past are questioned, as are their authors, forms, and relations. The final outcome has a shared sensibility that they, self-aware and critically analyzed as authors (artist), are creating a new narrative to challenge the self-fashioned notion of what we consider our identity as a nation is.

There are three sculptures I’m examining in...

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