This Spring, Collective will present the UK premiere of Smashing Monuments, a film by artist and filmmaker, Sebastián Díaz Morales, originally commissioned for documenta fifteen.
Presented on a large-scale LED screen, the film follows five members of the Indonesian art collective ruangrupa as they engage in one-sided conversations with monuments around the city of Jakarta, Indonesia. Appropriately, Smashing Monuments will be exhibited in Collective’s City Dome space, initiating a dialogue with the many historic monuments which surround the gallery on Calton Hill.
Indonesia’s history of independence and ruangrupa’s own path as young citizens of the new republic play out in Smashing Monuments’ half-improvised, intimate dialogues which reveal each individual’s personal history to the monuments and the city of Jakarta. The film captures the ruangrupa artists walking alone through the streets, pausing to speak to monuments and documenting the seismic changes in the city. The urban developments, along with the passage of time have impacted on peoples’ everyday relationship to the monuments of Jakarta.
The Pancoran monument, built in the 1960s to celebrate Indonesia’s burgeoning aviation industry can now only be viewed properly from a single space amongst the motorways. Commissioned to inspire young people to take part in the building of the Indonesian nation, the Pemuda Membangun Statue is now at the centre of a rapidly gentrifying suburb of Jakarta, where few young people can afford to live. These changes question the role these monuments have in the city now, and how the passage of time changes their meaning and significance to the people they share the city with.
Smashing Monuments also give us insight into Jakarta’s possible futures, and the impact they might have on its citizens. The Pembebasan Irian Barat Statue, built to celebrate Indonesia’s independence from Dutch colonial rule, invites a conversation about the ongoing fight against the legacy of colonialism, and what the future might hold for the artist’s baby daughter. Commissioned to welcome competitors to the 1962 Asian Games (a multi-sport event held every four years among athletes from all over Asia) The Patung Salamat Detang statue prompts the artist to muse about the changing face of Jakarta and the imminent relocation of the Indonesian capital to the island of Borneo.
Perhaps most significantly, Smashing Monuments invites us to think about the way monuments bear witness to our lives – remaining unchanged as we grow up, grow old and pass away. In the artist Gesyada Siregar’s one sided conversation with the Tugu Tani Statue, she reflects on the fact that this monument has been present for both her own and her late mother’s youth– standing by as they walked to and from their nearby high school, and linking them across time.
Smashing Monuments was commissioned by ruangrupa as an act of ‘harvesting’. For ruangrupa, to ‘harvest’ refers to artistic recordings of discussions and meetings. Harvesters listen, reflect and depict this process with their own forms and artistic processes. Having followed and been part of ruangrupa’s practice since the early 2000s, Sebastián Díaz Morales produced Smashing Monuments as a harvest at the invitation of the group – it is an autonomous, artistic work. Smashing Monuments had its premiere showing in 2022 at documenta fifteen, one of the most significant exhibitions of contemporary art which takes place in Kassel, Germany every 5 years – directed last year by ruangrupa.
In its exhibition at Collective, Smashing Monuments invites us to the think about the monuments we see each day in Edinburgh, and the relationships we have with them. From the unfinished National Monument – Edinburgh’s Disgrace – just a few hundred metres away from the gallery on Calton Hill, to the statue of Henry Dundas in St Andrew Square, which remains at the centre of an ongoing controversy and debate in the city. The history of Edinburgh’s monuments is complex and sometimes contradictory. Our statues track the various visions the city has had of itself over time, and our responses to them today show how these visions can become embedded, outdated or even reviled.
Smashing Monuments (2022) by Sebastián Díaz Morales, 25 March – 11 June 2023, Collective
Smashing Monuments will be accompanied by a programme of events and workshops, to be announced.
Produced with financial support of documenta fifteen, Mondriaan Fonds and The Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Soundscore, Dick Verdult aka Dick el Demasiado, With ruangrupa members: Indra Kusuma aka Ameng, Ade Darmawan, Gesyada Siregar, Farid Rakun & Naga Mirwan Andan
Sebastián Díaz Morales work has been exhibited widely at venues—such as the Tate Modern, London; Centre Pompidou; Stedelijk Museum and De Appel, Amsterdam; Le Fresnoy, Roubaix; CAC, Vilnius; Art in General, New York City; Ludwig Museum, Budapest; Biennale Sao Pablo; Biennale of Sydney; Miro Foundation, Barcelona; MUDAM, Luxemburg; Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon; the Biennale di Venezia and documenta fifteen.
His works can be found at the collections of the Centre Pompidou; Tate Modern; Fundación Jumex, Mexico; Sandretto Foundation, Torino; Lemaître’s collection; Constantini collection, Buenos Aires; Pinault Foundation, Paris; Sammlung-Goetz, Munich; and the Fundacion de Arte Moderna, Museo Berardo, Lisbon between others. In 2009 he was awarded with a Guggenheim Fellowship.
Founded in Jakarta, Indonesia in 2000, ruangrupa’s work is based on a holistic social, spatial and personal practice strongly connected to Indonesian culture, in which friendship, solidarity, sustainability, and community are central. “ruangrupa” translated freely means “art space” or “spatial form.”
Established in 1984, Collective has long supported new work by artists who are at a pivotal stage in their development. In November 2018, we opened our new home on Calton Hill, featuring the restored City Observatory, City Dome, and a purpose-built exhibition space. Our programme of exhibitions, walks, and events presents contemporary art in all its diversity. We provide artists with the opportunity to make new work and audiences the chance to see it here first. By inspiring, engaging with, and learning from the people and groups around us, we aim to contribute to local, national, and international conversations.