This thesis was inspired by the cryptic narrative surrounding the Obelisk of Freedom - a monument constructed in 1918, in Moscow, as part of the new Soviet Constitution - in which the structure was unexpectedly demolished in 1941, after having been deemed ‘not in-keeping’ with the reconstruction of the square. This peculiar account guided further research into the complex systems of truth, official narrative, speculation and partial realities that either are the result of or accompany the monument as a rather ambiguous entity.
Based in the small, rural town of Kirkintilloch (8 miles north-east of Glasgow) Case 655735: Enquiry for the Mowbray Monument poses as a parafictional dossier - collating critical evidence in the decision process established by Historic Environment Scotland - where a controversial monument in Kirkintilloch’s town centre, the Mowbray monument, is under threat of being dismantled as part of a redevelopment project. Complete with a range of archival photographs, illustrative timelines, redevelopment proposals and apocryphal newspaper articles, each chapter surveys the incident through the conflicting perspective of a different narrator: the Agitator, the Complainer, the Political Campaigner, and the Urban Redeveloper.
In constructing this parafictional world, the reader questions the dubious information being presented by each character. Furthermore, by approaching the subject through a rather performative narration, the dialogues that persistently surround the monument regarding public engagement/non-engagement and the unwitting passer-by are broached in a method that stimulates the reader, in an ongoing, unravelling dicussion.
Case 655735 was submitted as an MA Dissertation, completed in June 2019, and subsequently attained an Award of Distinction from Royal College of Art. If you are interested in reading a digital copy, please contact the artist.
An expansion of Case 655375 materialised in the Capped Out exhibition at The Old Biscuit Factory, London in July 2019. The installation presented an obscurely wrapped object, tied down to an old shipping crate with rope and strapping - perhaps a segment of the broken Mowbray structure in transit - accompanied by various piles of development plans, transportation documents, and official Historic Environment Scotland reports. The object probes questions of the unseen; and Foucault’s theory of the problematic invisibility of monuments, seeping into their everyday, architectural surroundings.
The installation was accompanied by a spoken word performance on the opening evening of the exhibition - where the artist re-worked extracts from the final chapter of the thesis, which originally appears as an argumentative public panel conference between each of the narrators.