Integrative Seminar II
Monument: Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe, a prominent French monument, was built between 1806 and 1836. It is in honor of those who fought for France. Engraved on the inside and at the top of the arch are all of the names of the generals and wars fought. There are inscriptions in the ground underneath the vault of the arch which include the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I where the Memorial Flame burns and have made the Arc de Triomphe Paris a patriotic site.
The arc stands tall in the middle of a traffic circle where cars and people circle it everyday. They are supposed to be reminded of the sacrifice people have made for their country, they are reminded of the battles fought, and their history. Often times the monuments meaning is overlooked, especially by the locals. It is not always a constantly reminder and sometimes monuments can be used as a platform for drawing attention to a different cause. For example, in December 2015, thirty Greenpeace activists scaled the Arc de Triomphe for a renewable energy protest where they held a sign that asked President Hollande to renew energy. The protesters also painted the streets around the Arc yellow. The yellow sign was not very large in scale of the Arc, but the protest caught the attention of everyone who saw it that say.
This was not the first time the Arc de Triomphe was a platform for demonstrations. On Armistice Day in November 2013 at the Arc de Triomphe President François Hollande was booed as he laid a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. People started chanting at him about his left wing dictatorship. Soon after fights began to breakout and seventy people were arrested. If this this protest began a recurring happening for the Arc de Triomphe then the monument would become a stage and the meaning of the monument would begin to fade, thus it would an anti-monument.
When monuments are constantly used for something else other than their original intent, are they still a monument? If the monument becomes something new that does not serve the purpose to remember someone or something, then no, it cannot be a monument. The anti-monument is something that allows free thought, the view does not have to meet expectations on how to act, it reminds them of nothing (with the exception of personal memory), it does not have to be man-made, it does not have to be serious, and it can be temporary–whereas monuments are typically man-made structures that commemorate a person or an event. Usually you approach a monument with respect alike to how you would visit a grave, but with less of a personal connection. People know where the monuments are, they are popular tourist attractions, so an anti-monument could be something no one knows about, something off the maps.
I decided to turn the Arc de Triomphe into an anti-monument. First I thought about location. I noticed the central-ness of the monument and decided to remove I that area and to put it where there wasn’t a large traffic flow around it. I knew I wanted it to be in the middle of nature, then I thought it should also be right by another monument so that this monument would distract from the Arc de Triomphe. I put the Arc right next to the Eiffel Tower.
The next set to turning the Arc de Triomphe into an anti-monument was to let nature reclaim the space. Since there are not a lot of tall trees in the area, trees and other plants would be planted and the area would not be maintained. Not only would this keep the monument out of sight, but it would allow graffiti artists to have the ability to create upon the monument, transforming it into something totally different than its original intent. It would allow, and possibly even promote free-thought until nature reclaims it.
Another approach I had relates to our attitude towards monuments versus how our attitude could be towards an anti-monument. A part of monuments, although it’s an unwritten rule, is our demeanor when we are visiting. You should look with respect, you should take time to remember and appreciate the person, people or event. An anti-monument would be approach differently, it would approach by how you feel towards it, there would be no unwritten rule about how you should act. I decided by adding color to the Arc de Triomphe, it would help liven the mood. I split it in half horizontally and made the bottom half orange and the top half purple–two colors that mean nothing together to allow the person interacting with the monument freedom to relate whatever they want to the colors.
Next, I decided to allow the person interacting with the piece to really be able to interact with the monument. Often times there’s a sacredness around the monument and we feel like we should not touch it too much. Upon this idea I made the walls of the Arc de Triomphe into rock climbing walls. Not only will these walls allow people to interact with the monument, but it will allow them to be on the same level as the monument. The Arc de Triomphe, as well as most monuments, are very tall in comparison to a human body. To allow people the chance to stand at the same height as the monument would allow not only a new perspective but weakened sense of importance. It would not seem so colossal and so untouchable.
(I have footnotes on the original Google Doc, but could not figure out how to add them in here.)
“History of the Arc De Triomphe Paris.” Arc De Triomphe Paris. N.p., n.d. Web.
This webpage outlines the history of the Arc de Triomphe and its meaning.
“Paint It Yellow: 30 Greenpeace Activists Scale Arc De Triomphe in Renewable Energy Protest (IMAGES).” RT International. N.p., 11 Dec. 2015. Web. Apr. 2016.
This is an article about when the Arc de Triomphe was used as a platform for a protest, which distracts from its original meaning.
Paris, Peter Allen In. “Armistice Day Humiliation for Hollande as He’s Booed at Arc De Triomphe Ceremony Where 70 Are Arrested in Violent Protests.” Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 11 Nov. 2013. Web. Apr. 2016.
An article about how the president was booed at the monuments ceremony which goes against how we are supposed to act at monuments.