This video is a docu-fiction, partly based in reality. There was a proposal to produce a monument to the fallen in Benghazi and the monument was never built. Alwan depicts the journey towards the site of the monument, yet it is momentarily slowed down and interrupted by a close up of a bullet-ridden structure. The close-up is a testimony of war, a detail which is not immediately clear but which should point to the existence of 'spontaneous' monuments, of fissures, slashes, in the plain of vision which hint to a recent violent past.
There are different levels to the work: the existence of temporary and mobile reminders of war, the 'unmonumental', the hap-hazard and it's extension: the refusal to represent, to legitimise and produce a 'stand-in' for these multiple fissures, traumas and ultimately deaths. The refusal of the commission stems from recognising that if the function of the monument is to produce a space for collective mourning, then that space is already present and it cannot be instrumentalised, fossilized and essentialised by the production of a state-funded representation of hurt, which inevitably produces selective histories.
This touches upon various questions. The manner in which I have tried to navigate the uneasiness an artist may feel in being complicit in the monument's production. This uneasiness may be more pronounced if the artist feels called on to tell a collective story and becomes an instrument in carving it. The monument plays into the idea of the nation state, it does so even more vividly if the nation is nascent and living a phase of turbulence where these projects can become 'stop-gaps' in an otherwise un-orderly production of constituencies. What would it mean to bring attention and light to transitory monuments or to monuments that were not born to last?
Read an interview with Adelita Husn-Bey for Platform 005, here.