2014-08-28

Historical Memory

The first thing all the revolutionary masses do when they seize power is to tear down the symbols of power depicting their ancient oppressors. It seems like by doing that they would conjure their maleficent influence, the city would recover the necessary neutrality for a new consensus, for a new coexistence. And yet, few parts of our cities would remain standing if we had to demolish all the symbols of power inherited from the past, all the statues of kings or dictators, all the triumphal arches, all the columns of victory, all the weapons, shields and eagles... But what if the most sensible option would be just the opposite? What if they would get out of the museums and warehouses all the symbols of oppression to place them back in their original locations? What if, instead of appealing to some stylistic coherence, instead of tracing back every part of the city to a specific time in the past --attitude which, although embellished with academic rigour, always masks a new form of political oppression--, the most neutral, the most coherent, the most beneficial solution, would be just to relocate all the symbols back, together?

Image after Étienne Dupérac's Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae (The Mirror of Roman Magnificence), View of the Roman Capitol, 1569 [pd] and various equestrian statues [fu/fd].