Is this my final form?

When we talk about the destruction of monuments and what represents the monumental heritage we are talking about a kind of memory destruction. Every act of conservation and restoration invariably affects and transforms the original essence of the heritage, which involves a certain degree of loss. The obsession with physical preservation is so great embodied in the mentality of the 20th century that it is difficult to separate the attempt to understand the past and its meaning from the agony of choosing which parts (of the past) should be protected and preserved. The wide range of ways the past is used in society is thereby reduced to the literal act of preserving its physical aspect.
Whether minor or radical, more or less brutal or progressive, these transformations are often defined as the “defunctionalization” of heritage. Still, it is a change of function and use within a system of procedures and uses. Until modern times, it was quite normal to eliminate what we now call a monument or a work of art when it was considered obsolete or no longer suited the needs and expectations it previously satisfied.
Forgetting is only possible through a conscious, free and deliberate act of forgetting something. The same password can be applied to heritage. Only when a building, locality, or tradition is deliberately no longer given any attention and thus does not fulfill any function in society, that object is effectively lost as heritage. In other words, conscious forgetting does not imply the physical destruction of the object. In this regard, only the demolition of monuments or the newly created void after the demolition of anti-fascist memorials cannot undo the persistence of a heritage object or site – unless no one cares to remember them anymore. It is extremely ironic that the very act of destruction called anti-fascist memorials to memory, and even certain activities related to their activation in collective memory, such as various publications that have recently started to be written about them or artistic projects that tried to revitalize them.
Within the mentioned context, both destruction and construction/creation can be understood as equally essential features of immortalization.
Loss and change are part of life and part of what gives our heritage value.
The loss itself is not so much problematic as it is how individuals, communities, and societies choose to deal with the loss, i.e. the destruction. After all, heritage is a continuous manifestation of change over time, not a victim of it.

This isn’t even my final form/Public intervention/Monument to the fallen Partisans-Split, 2022
Is this my final form?/Public intervention/Monument to the first president of Croatia-Franjo Tuđman/Split, 2022

A monument to a monument

A monument to a monument/ 2022

Trying to investigate spatiality in its social conditioning, Henri Lefebvre (1901-1991)10 distinguishes three levels of space: spatial practice, representation of space, and representational space. The last level represents the space of the “lived” filled with “associated images and symbols” – that is, the representational space, shaped by objects that are governed by imagination and use, thus enabling them to be assigned different meanings, not always transparent and unequivocal. Its readiness is conditioned by the space of representation – state and institutional coding of space. This fact makes it impossible to change anything more than what is institutionally and state-mediated, and therefore nothing can be imagined and lived – as a variation or an escape from the default. The actions and interventions we are talking about and which we list in this paper belong to the sphere of challenging normality with artistic actions that not only do not support the acceptable formula of collective memory, state, and institutional coding of space but also insist on the inappropriateness of one’s insight and recollection. Some of the symbols of the post-socialist era, such as the monument to the Fallen Partisans in Split (Sućidar neighborhood), are becoming privileged fields of action, certainly not because of mourning or Yugonostalgia, but because of the ambivalent role that such monuments assume in today’s society. It is precisely this position that these monuments have acquired that led the artist to act as a mediator between different times and spaces, in such a way as to use performative and visual practices to create a universal formula to preserve the conservation of social role and meaning of these objects. Dealing with the analysis and deconstruction of the term “monument”, the author developed the theory of “dospomeniks”. These are wooden structures wrapped with the sponge and plastic film for packaging similar to the standardized packaging used when transporting or moving sculptures. These objects do not in any case represent themselves, nor do they serve themselves as objects of special artistic significance. These are functional objects that use the monuments themselves. Their role is determined precisely by the monument next to which they will be found in a certain role, in such a way that the context of the monument itself will determine the role of the commemorator. We also attach the terms: auxiliary monument, substitute monument, false monument, a real monument to these objects, and memorials.

Dospomenik/ To a monument of Marko Marulić/ Split, 2022 photo: Mak Hubjer