By Harun Morrison
from your fleshy animate body consider static, polished ones
consider your skin in relation to metal
your bones in relation to stone
your breath in relation to wifi
your veins in relation to the fibre optic cables beneath you
listen, the city speaks, it is a dissonant choir, speaking differently in different places simultaneously
each intervention in public space is speech meeting other speech
imaginations of today encountering imaginations ten, fifty a hundred years prior
imaginations of the future wrestling with imaginations of today
memorials should be flatpack, all the quicker for their inheritors to disassemble, to shelve, to relocate
or send down a river as they deem necessary
When a large statue is stolen at night, sawn to pieces, then sold to a yard; it’s rightly considered an act of vandalism. Newspapers take grim glee in reporting something worth only a few thousand pounds as scrap-metal being worth millions as sculpture. Typically such sculptures are monumental, weighty and commanding of the space around them. Cranes, reinforced ground, multiple crews of workers are all needed to install them, and they are similarly demanding feats to remove. However, what if in this case such a sculpture is not stolen by thieves for profit? Instead it is stolen by the artist themself, who proposes through this clandestine act to reimagine their work in public space. Nor is it stolen alone, but in consort with others, for whom it is local, who have spent time with the sculpture, even loved it, but have similarly come to understand that renewal must balance constancy.
The reimagination is instigated with the act of removal. The sculpture is removed, but doesn’t simply disappear, it becomes a story, a rumour, as solid and persistent as it ever was in situ. It is melted and reconstituted into necklaces, rings, prosthetics limbs, tooth fillings and electrical components. These items are gradually redistributed back into the locality the sculpture occupied, so the work returns. In the sculpture’s afterlife it has acquired a new intimacy with, and proximity to organic bodies. The circuits of art are interlaced with repair shop phones and body parts. Every now and then the artist and their co-conspirators might recognise an item around a neck, or a particular bracelet, this warmed them. Nevertheless they remained unsatisfied. Although they didn’t doubt the value of their effort they felt they missed their mark, but couldn’t put their finger on why.
The best monument? A return of land to the commons. Hands off branches. Make it illegal for trees over 40 to be lopped. Each inhabitant afforded the time to design their own monument, from clay or mash-potato or ice-cream. A monument to cleaners? Raise the minimum wage. A monument to nurses? Properly funded hospitals. A monument to soldiers? Dissolution of the arms industry.
Harun Morrison is an artist and writer based on the inland waterways. He is the current recipient of the Wheatley Fine Art Fellowship, hosted by Birmingham School of Art, Birmingham City University and Eastside Projects. His forthcoming novel, The Escape Artist will be published by Book Works in 2022. Harun’s exhibition ‘Experiments with Everyday Objects’ opens at Eastside Projects this Spring and runs till the end of July. Recent soundworks will also feature in the 30th anniversary edition of the Dakar Biennial (postponed in 2020). Since 2006, Harun has collaborated with Helen Walker as part of the collective practice They Are Here. He is also a trustee of the Black Cultural Archives (est. 1981). @harunishere