Fleeting Monument

1985

Cornelia Parker
Cornelia Parker has made a number of installations and sculptures from lead casts of souvenirs of famous buildings, including Gaudi's Sagrada Familia, the Empire State Building and the Taj Mahal. 'Fleeting Monument' is created out of lead casts taken from a handle shaped like Big Ben which originally formed part of an ornamental bell sold in shops throughout central London. Because she cast hundreds of Big Bens from only one mould, the clock towers gradually became faceless. She writes: ''Souvenirs are bought as monuments, reminders, relics of something extraordinary. Through miniaturisation and reproduction, a famous cathedral becomes a crude abstraction, a useless ruin of the original. 'Fleeting Monument' appears almost as if it has been dropped on to the floor and splattered out in a circle'' The breaking down and dematerialising of form is a theme that occurs repeatedly in Parker's work and her sculptures and installations often comprise numerous small objects hanging in free-fall from wires fixed to the ceiling. Cornelia Parker's titles often act as clues to the reading of her work. Here for instance the word 'fleeting' has a double meaning. On the one hand it simply refers to the passing of time - Big Ben, one of the most obvious symbols of time, has here been eroded into the disintegrated forms on the outer edge of the circle. ''Something that is supposed to stand forever, like a monument, could also be a fleeting thing, a contradiction I explore in other works such as 'The Weathered Explosion and Hanging Fire' ''. But the title 'Fleeting Monument' is also a tongue-in-cheek reference to the fact that the shape of the Big Bens reminded the artist of aerial photographs of a fleet of ships at sea.
  • Artwork Details: 76 x 214 x 214cm
  • Edition:
  • Material description: lead, wire and brass
  • Credit line: © the artist
  • Theme: Undefined
  • Medium: Sculpture
  • Accession number: AC 5442
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