Monumental cares

Sites of history and contemporary art

By Mechtild Widrich

Monumental cares


  • Hardcover
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-6811-5
  • Pages: 264
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £25.00
  • Published Date: January 2023
  • BIC Category: The arts / History of architecture, Contemporary Art, Architecture: public buildings, ARCHITECTURE / History / Contemporary (1945-), Memorials, Monuments, ART / History / Contemporary (1945-), ARCHITECTURE / Buildings / Landmarks & Monuments, The arts / History of art & design styles: from c 1900 -
  • Series: Rethinking Art's Histories


Monumental cares rethinks monument debates, site specificity and art activism in light of problems that strike us as monumental or overwhelming, such as war, migration and the climate crisis. The book shows how artists address these issues, from Chicago and Berlin to Oslo, Bucharest and Hong Kong, in media ranging from marble and glass to postcards, graffiti and re-enactment. A multidirectional theory of site does justice to specific places but also to how far-away audiences see them. What emerges is a new ethics of care in public art, combined with a passionate engagement with reality harking back to the realist aesthetics of the nineteenth century. Familiar questions can be answered anew: what to do with monuments, particularly when they are the products of terror and require removal, modification or recontextualisation? And can art address the monumental concerns of our present?


'Mechtild Widrich brings to the fore key questions of contemporary approaches to monumentality, and shakes these further. Moving with agility across a wide range of detailed case studies, this book makes a compelling case for a layered perspective that sees the monumental in its complex and interrelational potential: as history materialised through art in multidirectional interactions with time, space and their mediation. It is a book that refuses simplistic solutions, reminding us of the vital role of the public sphere in confronting and commemorating our shared histories and of the importance of an ethics of care in doing so.'
Jacek Ludwig Scarso, Reader in Art and Performance, London Metropolitan University


Who cares? An introduction
1 The sites of history
2 Cold War in stone - and plastic
3 Materializing art geographies
4 Reversing monumentality
5 Reflections
6 Drawing pain: political art in circulation
Caring about monuments: a conclusion


Mechtild Widrich is Professor of Art History, Theory and Criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and author of Performative Monuments (2014)

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