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Things Fall Apart II

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Andrew Burton



‘Things Fall Apart’ is a ‘monumental’ work in that at first sight it appears to conform to a number of the stereotypical attributes of monumental works of sculpture: it is a singular, unified, sculpture with a vertical and anthropomorphic aspect that evokes an emotional response drawing on notions of shared memories. However ‘Things Fall Apart’ also seeks to question, and to a degree undermine notions of ‘monumentality’. It is immediately apparent that the monumental state of the sculpture is already past. The sculpture is in a state of near-collapse : ‘Things Fall Apart is a temporary work, built from many thousands of fragments of earlier works of art that have now been destroyed. These fragments, accumulations of tiny bricks still hold memories of the earlier sculptures of which they formed a part – traces of paint and cement left on the surface are evidence of these earlier structures. The use, and then re-use of brick, a basic component of much European architecture alludes to the construction, destruction and subsequent reconstruction of much of our urban fabric: it reminds the viewer of the tension between the ephemeral and the permanent, and proposes that nothing will be forever. ‘Things Fall Apart’ is very visibly situated at a moment of tension between stability and collapse. The title refers (inter alia) to the poem by WB Yeats, ‘The Second Coming’ written in 1919 in the aftermath of the First World War which evokes post-war Europe. The sculpture seeks a fairly literal interpretation of the poem’s apocalyptic lines ‘Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold’ in the way the architectural core of the work appears to be at a point of imminent collapse. Monument is almost the same word in French and English, pronounced differently, but needing no translation. It carries with it similar associations of commemoration, grandeur, endurance and impact.This exhibition is part of an EU Interreg funded, cross-channel collaboration between galleries in England, Normandy and the Pas de Calais. These regions have in common 20th century war memorials that are a feature of nearly all towns and villages.Monument draws together works by artists who address the idea of the monument in a great variety of ways. With the centenary of the First World War and the 70 year anniversary of the Normandy landings as our starting place, some of the work on show addresses conflict and memory directly associated with these events. Other works expand on the monument theme more generally, to question the scale and nature of the monumental, the changing significance of monuments and the rituals associated with them and the way we express private or collective memory. Some of the works are more directly about monuments, while others challenge the concept and our expectations. By bringing these works together the curators of this exhibition aim to consider the concept of the monument both as a legacy of war, and also as a vehicle for individuals and communities to make public expressions of memory.

Publication metadata

Artist(s): Burton AGC

Publication type: Artefact

Publication status: Published

Year: 2014

Description: installed sculpture

Venue: Sainsbury Centre for Visual Art,

Location: University of East Anglia, Norwich

Type of Work: sculpture

Alternate Title: Things Fall Apart II, Monument: Aftermath of War and Conflict