The issue of monumentality has been a recurring object of examination for Dia since its inception in 1974. From landmark outdoor works by Walter De Maria, Robert Smithson, and Joseph Beuys and architectural interventions by Dan Flavin and Robert Irwin to recent critical revisions of the notion in Thomas Hirschhorn’s Gramsci Monument, Dia has demonstrated a sustained interest in promoting approaches to the monumental as a critical or truncated principle at work in public spaces.
Monuments have traditionally articulated historical and ideological concerns, directly addressing the citizen. In contemporary times, monumentality has emerged as a generalized category that applies to all sorts of grandiose and emblematic structures. The examination of this critical process becomes all the more urgent as the proliferation of monuments overwhelms the globalized, awe-driven public sphere.
From December 2013 to June 2015, this cycle of Discussions in Contemporary Culture brings together artists, architects, scholars, and writers to address today’s monuments and counter-monuments as effigies of the multifarious forces at work in global society and to examine the current possibilities—even the need—for a redefinition of this important concept.