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n South African Journal of Cultural History - The aesthetics of ideology : the vicissitudes of monuments

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Abstract

This article refers in broad outline to the purpose of monuments, both sculptural and architectural. The problem set is the assessment of the congruence between the aesthetic design or material expression, and the ethical or ideological meaning of monuments. Historical examples are selected from the category of architectural structures and monumental sculptures representing defunct ideologies. This group of structures are often neglected, vandalised, completely destroyed, toppled, appropriated or recycled by rival groups. The further discussion focusses on two proposed monuments, both of which are intended to honour the victims of past events, which were inspired by ideological considerations. These examples are chosen because their separate designs could give an indication whether or not their planners have learnt a lesson from the past, that the ideologies which inspire them at the present time will inevitably become defunct and that the physical presence of symbolic structures will become offensive to future rulers. Both in terms of formal qualities and content or meaning in the context of the dominant political ideology of a society, there is generally a mismatch between aesthetic expression and ethical intent in the design of political or national monuments. In the final section an attempt is made to solve the problem of remembering the past in ways other than the erection of monumental constructions intended to celebrate past or present political ideologies or heroes.


Hierdie artikel verwys in breë trekke na die doel van monumente, sowel beeldhoukundig as argitektonies. Die gestelde probleem is die evaluering van die kongruensie tussen die estetiese ontwerp of materiële uitdrukking, en die etiese of ideologiese betekenis van monumente. Historiese voorbeelde word geselekteer uit die kategorie van argitektoniese strukture en monumentale beelde wat uitgediende ideologieë verteenwoordig. Hierdie groep strukture word dikwels deur mededingende groepe verwaarloos, gevandaliseer, geheel en al vernietig, omgestoot, toegeëien, of hergebruik. Vervolgens fokus die bespreking op twee beoogde monumente wat albei moet dien om hulde te bring aan die slagoffers van historiese gebeure wat deur ideologiese oorwegings geïnspireer is. Hierdie voorbeelde is gekies omdat hulle onderskeie ontwerpe 'n aanduiding behoort te gee of hulle beplanners 'n les uit die verlede geleer het, die ideologieë wat hulle tans inspireer, onvermydelik uitgedien sal raak en dat die fisiese teenwoordigheid van simboliese strukture vir toekomstige heersers aanstootlik sal wees. Sowel wat die formele kwaliteite as die inhoud of betekenis in die konteks van die dominante politieke ideologie van 'n samelewing betref, is daar in die algemeen 'n strydigheid tussen die estetiese uitdrukking en etiese bedoeling van politieke of nasionale monumente. Ten slotte word daar 'n poging aangewend om die probleem om die verlede te onthou, op ander wyses op te los as deur die oprigting van monumentale konstruksies wat bedoel is om ideologieë of heldefigure van die verlede of die hede te verheerlik.

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/content/culture/16/2/EJC30572
2002-11-01
2016-12-06
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