Monday 5 September 2022

Picture Post #78 Human Loss

'Because things don’t appear to be the known thing; they aren’t what they seemed to be
neither will they become what they might appear to become.'


Posted by Jeremy Dyer *

Prague, Czech Republic. Monument to the Victims of Communism

I have viewed this powerful, symbolic artwork in Prague, which also makes an arresting image. If asked to interpret the artwork, we might imagine it is depicting the misery of loss in some form—perhaps Alzheimers, loss of identity, or personal catastrophe.

Today it might represent alienation from society, as aspects of our literal and ideological worlds are constantly being buffeted around us. What are you busy losing? What parts of you have faded away, and how do you grieve for that? What things are gone forever and what might still be resurrected in your life? How do you mourn that which has been forgotten by you? Does it speak to your life?

Officially, though, the installation represents the personal human cost brought about by the historical evil of Communism. And today, passers-by ignore it as they go about their daily business, even as a steady trickle of tourists take selfies there.


* Jeremy Dyer is a psychologist and artist.


Keith said...

It’s an evocative image, for sure, Jeremy. But, it doesn’t speak to me about things like my personal identity. Rather, something bigger. The image is a reminder of the presence of evil in the world: yes, the inhumane behviours of oppressive dictators, as the monument pointedly symbolises, but even more so the genocides that have dotted the 20th and 21st centuries.

I was immediately reminded of the expression ‘the banality of evil’, for which Hannah Arendt deservedly became famous in 1963, associated with nonthinking while evil — the practices of the worst of inhumanity — went on all around. A human condition that the above image of course sadly epitomises in its own way.

I think it’s worth sharing Arendt’s full quote: ‘Evil comes from a failure to think. It defies thought for as soon as thought tries to engage itself with evil and examine the premises and principles from which it originates, it is frustrated because it finds nothing there. That is the banality of evil’.

Thomas O. Scarborough said...

It is a disturbing artwork.

Many people struggle to overcome loss, while new gains are being made all the time, no less wonderful than at first.

To wax more philosophical, I would think that the worst kind of loss is the loss of hope. Many do not find a basis on which they can hope again.

Martin Cohen said...

It's definitely miserable… but is that the function of public art? To spread gloom and feed depression and insecurity? We accept sculpture of this kind in "memorials", though - but "victims of Communism"? It's too general. We could put grim memorials up everywhere on this basis. Victims of poor eating habits, of high energy bills, of unemployment (definitely)… Yes, the world is full of misery. But (an I know it's a "conservative" view) think public art should be attempting to reduce that, not add to it.

Anonymous said...

Martin - in general I wholeheartedly agree - public art should preferably be uplifting. But symbolic, commemorative, and even "challenging" art, all have their place. Keith I also agree that this speaks of evil, and the personal effects of that. Actually I think none of us resist the banality of evil sufficiently, as the life and works of Solzhenitsyn demonstrated. Even today there is much mindless compliance with evil everywhere.

Post a Comment