My thoughts on the proposed Rond Terrace monument (background here, thanks johnboy).
I’m curious about how the idea first started. What is the aim, the perceived need? Did the RSL or Department of Veterans’ Affairs notice that people seem to be forgetting about the World Wars? Were young folk observed defacing war memorials and mocking the sacrifices of their passed and rapidly passing ancestors?
Precisely what is to achieved by the erection of this monument? Are these monumental chunks simply to remind us that the historical event happened, and to remind us that we remember them? Or will they actually help us to remember better those wars, and our fellow citizens’ suffering and sacrifice, with appropriate reverence and reflection? Will they be able to communicate some profound relationship between the ‘here’ (of Rond Terrace) and ‘now’ (2011), and the infinite different ‘theres’ and ‘thens’ of those conflicts? Or are they just a kind of emotional decor writ large – some ‘big stuff’ to proudly, needily cram before the touristic gaze of visitors? I suspect the latter. I suspect this monument will only substitute pomp for empathic memory. It will diminish our sense of the suffering of war, with its mute, brute scale. Its earnest, symmetrical solemnity speaks lacks any organic connectedness to the true places and forms of national memory.
Few may know that the ACT has its own memorial honouring men and women ‘associated with’ the Territory who served in a number of conflicts and peacekeeping missions throughout the world. Has anyone ever visited it, or seen someone visit it? Has anyone ever had a reflective moment there? I think it’s an earnest, sorry and irrelevant confection. This is the problem. Artifice and confection.
I reckon the money could be better spent elsewhere, even on other forms of public commemorative art and culture. It seems a bit too shrill and simple to argue that the funds should be spent healing current wars, preventing new ones, etc. The money’s obviously burning a hole in someone’s pocket. Any ideas? Designs/locations?