Memorialization

MEMORIALIZATION

People die, and gravestones are erected. Some of the first sculpture is funerary. Armies conquer, and huge triumphal arches mark city streets. As to the conquered, they often simply pass out of history, or not. The urge to memorialize might be private or political. The statues of dictators are pulled down by crowds in squares, or are so ancient they are left to stand, maybe missing an arm, or a head, towering over masses who don’t speak the same language these tyrants did, nor follow the same beliefs or customs. Obelisks list the names of the dead—whole farming towns in New England emptied of every young man who fought the Civil War.
The Holocaust has spawned a great deal of memorialization. Stumbling stones interrupt pavement (see below). Shoes stand without occupants.

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This from Wikipedia, thanks to Michael Smith: The Shoes on the Danube Bank is a memorial in Budapest, Hungary. Conceived by film director Can Togay, he created it on the west bank of the Danube River with sculptor Gyula Pauer to honor the Jews who were killed by fascist Arrow Cross militiamen in Budapest during World War II. They were ordered to take off their shoes, and were shot at the edge of the water so that their bodies fell into the river and were carried away. It represents their shoes left behind on the bank.

And then there is Katrina. How to memorialize an event that essentially swept everything away? It’s like a memorial to Pompeii or Atlantis. But New Orleans is still there.

To see responses in three New Orleans Museums:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/23/arts/design/ten-years-after-katrina-new-orleans-museums-reckon-with-recovery.html?_r=0#story-continues-3

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And as the article notes, things gain in context.

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Stephanie Patton’s “It Will Happen” (2014).

Paula Castillo at William Siegal Gallery

It’s been a good few days for art here in the Railyard. I’ve followed Paula Castillo’s work for many years. The current show of sculpture seems a bit less ephemeral, perhaps a bit more classic, than previous. Each piece retains a sense of movement, as if it might take flight or float off despite its material. Basically, they are just really beautiful.

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