Cavallini on Abdul Reading Response

In Roberto Cavallini paper Counter Monuments and Promise he looks closely at Lida Abdul’s work and defines the idea of counter monuments as a places that presents itself in the process of becoming and operates within our collective memory. In the video Abdul is painting the ruins, and by doing so she is exposing their existence. In many cities ruins are repaired or covered as quickly as possible after war, because they serve as a reminder of the destruction. However, by exposing these ruins Abdul is exposing the pain that the city has faced, instead of hiding it beneath a new building.

The physical act of her engaging with the ruins is also a tender moment of coming to terms with the loss. While Abdul is engaging with the loss, “her gesture simultaneously implies preservation (of ruins) and de-stitution (of mourning); in this perspective, exposure and promise inscribe in the place of the disaster the possibility of opening up an alternative reflection on what remains after a disaster.”

In this work Abdul is reimagining mourning, and how people interact with ruins. While Abdul is purifying and taking ownership of these ruins again, it caused me to question how we care for these ruins and how we should interact with them. Because they are being in a sense being claimed by Abdul, are they now a work of art? And if they have made this transition into an art object, they no longer function as ruins and instead will now be preserved. This preservation is in direct opposition to the usual treatment of ruins, and now offer no ground to rebuild. Abdul’s act of painting these ruins and the person in this film is a powerful statement about moving forward after war. However, this act creates an interesting dialogue between ruins and how their state of ruin can be a reminder of war or an opportunity for healing.


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