Summer 2022

Amidst public debate concerning problematic monuments, we are in urgent need of a geographically broad and historically deep understanding of monuments and memorials. We will look at the complicated relationship between monuments, history, the public, and free speech; learn about their historical development since the French Revolution, the various endeavors by artists and activists to democratize public art, the rise of counter-monuments, living memorials, performance as a site of memory and resistance, as well as various practices of vandalism, parody, and subversion. How does the Black Lives Matter Movement relate to activism against the statues of Columbus or confederate generals? Why did the bronze statue of a Korean girl lead to a diplomatic crisis with Japan? Why is public history important, and do we need physical signs in public space? Who has the power to put up objects of commemoration in public space and which alternatives are there? The course will emphasize historical grounding but also rigorous thinking about new forms of commemoration. 



Mechtild Widrich is a professor in the Department of Art History, Theory and Criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and currently Guest Professor at the University of Applied Arts. 

Widrich is the author of numerous publications on monuments, commemoration and public space, e.g. Performative Monuments (Manchester, 2014), Monumental Cares (Manchester, 2022), Participation in Art and Architecture (London, 2015/22), and Krzysztof Wodiczko, A 9/11 Memorial (London, 2009). 

Widrich is currently part of the Grant Park Advisory Council on Art, Monuments, Markers in Chicago, and jury member for the competition to contextualize the Lueger monument in Vienna. She is core research member of the AgorAkademi project at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales Paris, and the Performance and Public Space program and Research Center at London Metropolitan University and has held residencies and fellowships at the University of Chicago Hong Kong Center, the CCA/ National Technical University Singapore, the Eikones Center at University of Basel, the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, and the University of Notre Dame, among others. She holds a MPhil from the University of Vienna’s Art History Department and a PhD from Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Architecture Department.


more info at Base Angewandte


Image: Alexandra Pirici, If you don't want us, we want you, 2011. Foto Alexandru Patatics.