Echoing the Past: A Proposal for a Counter-Monument

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Abstract / Description of output

To hear an echo is to witness a past event; it is a past event in the here and now. The phenomenon of the echo is not an event cut off from its conception, that first outburst of noise or speech. But rather it is that birthing event, delayed and distorted but nonetheless that past moment in this present; the echo is its own past made present. The echo is presented - made present - as an ephemeral event, departed yet connected from its own materialisation in the past; a distinct spatio-temporal activity and phenomenon where the past is dematerialised to erupt upon the present. The echo appears to deliver a unique paradigm for memorialisation and remembrance, the opportunity to access and (de)materialise a past event within a concrete present. But the echo performs a distinct spatio-temporal praxis is in antithesis to traditional monumentalism. The performance is not a practice of material making but immaterial un-making; a practice of absence and ephemerality. An art practice of echoing would appear to conform to what James E. Young describes as the 'counter-monument'. These are practices of memorialisation that are against the ideological, painfully self-conscious of their very premise and deploy 'a strategy of evoking rather than invoking'. This paper will present the phenomenon of the echo within a psycho-mythological framework, and will resolve the echo as a paradigm for a type of counter-monumental art practice. Through discussing the public art project 'Daughter of a Voice' (2011), an artwork that confronts both the echo as a mythological device via the legend of Le Timbaler del Bruc (The Drummer Boy on Bruc Hill) and the echo as a material intervention into urban space, a practice will be proposed that eschews a representation of a past but performs an act of presence. This is a performance that places the burden of remembrance on active spectatorship rather than passive memory or reflection.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 13 Nov 2015
EventArt/Memory/Place - Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland
Duration: 13 Nov 2015 → …


Period13/11/15 → …

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • public art
  • counter-monument
  • phenomenon of the echo


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  • Daughter of a Voice

    Loder, D., 24 Oct 2011

    Research output: Non-textual formArtefact

    Open Access

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