Not Standing in Place
A public site project by Vlatka Horvat and Tim Etchells for Theater Spektakel
Not Standing in Place is a project by Vlatka Horvat and Tim Etchells with imaginary monuments by 14 international artists. Horvat and Etchells each have a varied artistic practice that moves between different forms: from sculpture, installation and performance to drawing, photography and video. In addition to pursuing their individual practices, the two artists have had a close collaboration for 20 years, working together on a range of projects and initiatives.
"For «Not Standing in Place», we invited a group of international artists to create imaginary monuments in text form to be installed across Theater Spektakel’s festival site. These monuments summoned in language are presented on a variety of structures – from billboards and 3-dimensional constructions to small signs and banners.
Our hope for this temporary project was that it would ask questions about which aspects of experience, history and daily life are marked or celebrated in shared public space. We had anticipated that different questions around permanence/ephemeralness, around material presence, and more broadly around societal change, might come to the fore, but essentially, we wanted the focus to come from the invited artists themselves, reflecting their interests and concerns.
The two of us come to this project from a number of angles. Through Vlatka’s experience as someone raised during socialism in what used to be Yugoslavia, living now – when that country no longer exists – as part of its diaspora, we have been sensitized to the ways in which social and political changes are played out in the public sphere. Thinking how acts of disavowal, removal and replacement – of ideas (and ideals), icons, monuments and other artefacts – often characterize times of change. More recently, debates about monuments have intensified since last year’s Black Lives Matter protests, provoking actions (and retrenchments) in many contexts, especially in respect of statues associated with histories of racial injustice, oppression and colonial exploitation. Meanwhile, broader culture wars, driven by populist politics have drawn attention to other performative symbols in public space, from flags to public actions in support of health workers.
We wanted these text-based works to open up a playful and vivid space of public imagination, reflection and thinking. A space where ideas can be unpacked in the minds of those encountering the works. With our invitation we tried to leave the field open, ceding to the artists to make text works that give attention to things that concern them: personal stories or interests, forgotten or marginalized histories, surprising events or images, shared dreams or even abstract ideas. The artists who have made works within the frame of "Not Standing in Place" – a mix of folks coming from visual art, performance and socially engaged practice – have indeed responded with an incredible diversity of ideas and approaches.
In dialogue with the festival team, we decided early on that the project would be realized remotely. With an awareness of both the global pandemic and the climate emergency, the goal was to avoid international travel. We have asked the artists to effectively give us proposals – texts and instructions for how their work should be realized – and, in dialogue with us, the production was carried out locally in Zurich. This process assumed a huge deal of trust on the part of the participating artists, for which we are immensely grateful.
The international artists whose temporary text-based monuments have been realized on the Landiwiese have each written an introduction to their own work for this guide. We hope you will consider some of the ideas, questions and concerns they have asked us to contend with.
Vlatka Horvat & Tim Etchells"