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Obelisco Transportable by Damián Ortega

Parked right now till 28 October 2007 at the Doris C. Freeman Plaza in Central Park is Damián Ortega's Obelisco Transportable, a 20-foot-tall “'mobile landmark' that one could potentially move anywhere to commemorate anything.”

Obelisco Transportable by Damián Ortega

Is is “a nod to the ways in which public sculptures and monuments have historically been moved from one city to another. Ortega describes this as the 'Napoleonic gesture,' in which the wartime victor plunders the monuments of captured cities and brings them back home to be installed in public there as a symbol of victory. Such transfers were meant to signal the rise of a new power and the demise of an older one, as well as an exchange of central and peripheral positions. Cleopatra's Needle in Central Park, for example, was originally created in Heliopolis, the ancient Egyptian city, more than 3,000 years ago. During the time of the Roman Empire, it was moved to Alexandria, where it remained for almost two millennia before being offered to the United States as a gift in the 19th century.”

Obelisco Transportable by Damián Ortega

We can't help here suggesting that Ortega should give Ikea permission to mass produce and sell his reusable memorials, because, firstly, we like to imagine them multiplying exponentially in public spaces everywhere (and no, there is still not nearly enough memorials), and, secondly, we also like the image of people scouring the city—a sort of pre-funerary cortege mixed in with some urban sightseeing—for an abandoned obelisk, one commemorating something already forgotten in the collective memory and thus can now be reused.

Other scenarios abound. For instance, one day of the year, those obelisks-on-wheels commemorating soldiers killed in the Global War on Terror are paraded through the city, like an Easter Procession. Before they are returned to their original sites, they would all be collected in the a central plaza, a formation reminiscent of Eisenman's Memorial to the Murdered Jews in Europe. Alternatively, they could be arranged less formally, more crowded, as haphazard as a favela. In any case, the sight of it all would be quite dramatic, a powerful statement on the consequences of war.

Another day might be set aside for victims of natural disasters and another for bicyclists killed by lunatic motorists.

Roadside memorials will similarly be made mobile, traveling the same route which the unfortunate souls they're memorializing may have taken. (Or seeking revenge?) But then they themselves will be involved in an accident.

Moving the Vatican Obelisk

  • Anonymous
  • September 3, 2007 at 6:08:00 AM CDT
  • hmmm

    The masons won't be happy about this. Their lay-lines are going to be all out of whack.

  • Alexander Trevi
  • September 3, 2007 at 12:59:00 PM CDT
  • That brings up another interesting scenario. New Agers the world over descend en mass to the City of Obelisks. They set about rearranging the placements of the obelisks, like Fontana's army of obelisk movers, because they believe that there's this one perfect pattern, which, when formed, it'll draw in all the psychic energy of the universe to the city, thereby ushering in the New Consciousness or world peace or whatever.

    Satanists will also descend en mass, reconfiguring their placements, essentially undoing what the New Agers have done, believing that a different pattern will open a gateway to hell.

    Whovians will try to free Abaddon from the Rift.

    At one intersection, all these disparate groups will bump into one another...

  • September 4, 2007 at 2:23:00 PM CDT
  • I have a feeling the Obelisk as a granite iconic block was purposefully meant to signify traditional memorials, but I think it might have had more meaning if it were made out of cardboard or retained the shape and served as a birdcage for canaries. Just my humble opinion. In the end, it's the wheels that make it something interesting.

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