14 January 2020

Erica X Eisen argues We Need More Public Monuments to Animals: “Creating monuments to ordinary life and to animals … centers not the ‘great’ but the small, challenging viewers simultaneously to accommodate these usually unrecounted stories into their conceptions of history and to reconsider the preeminence of these so-called ‘great men of history.’ … I see discussions of memorializing animals as a way of opening up our thinking about memorials in general: what memorials do, who they’re for, why they exist, and what they look like. … Animal monuments of this type have the potential to open up the broader question of how we can pay artistic homage to things that are not human — to forests, to rivers, to languages that have died, to the darkness of the night sky prior to the invention of the light bulb. If monuments in the urban landscape represent nodes of memory, reflection, and action, then a repertoire of monuments that consists so heavily of battle commemorations and busts of politicians not only fails to live up to the radical potential of the genre — it also largely lacks any engagement with the space around it. … An urban landscape that actively remembers the trees and animals, the populations and species that have been part of its creation would pave the way for a more humane future for all forms of life.”