Monument (2014) • Unsanctioned Public Light installation
Text from the public invitation to view Monument:
In a prime location on the river-front in the middle of Bangkok sits an unfinished, abandoned 49-storey condominium called Sathon Unique. It was built in the early nineties. Do to an unclear combination of corruption, money-laundering and the expansion/burst of an economic bubble the project fell apart, creating an 'instant-ruin' and unintentional monument. It sat unused for 20 years and now holds a huge advertising billboard.
It will operate on the evening of Thursday, November 27th, starting about 8:30pm and will be lit for just a few hours. Or less. We don't how long we will be able to maintain it.
In a prime location on the river-front in the middle of Bangkok sits an unfinished, abandoned 49-storey condominium called Sathon Unique. It was built in the early nineties. Do to an unclear combination of corruption, money-laundering and the expansion/burst of an economic bubble the project fell apart, creating an 'instant-ruin' and unintentional monument. It has sat unused for 20 years and now holds a huge advertising billboard.
Monument is a temporary, unsanctioned public lighting installation. It appropriates this existing structure and its meanings through the use of light. A lot of light. About 200,000 watts of red-coloured cinema lighting. The work treats the unfinished building as the monument it is- a monument to human acts and frailty and now the denial of decay and inevitable death. The building itself is a remnant of the implosion of a human construct which was harmful to many. This work appropriates the allegorical clarity of placing massive advertising billboards on such a monument; such advertising is promotion of the reconstruction of the very thing which imploded and caused this ominous monument to exist. By which, I mean the further push to produce/buy more of what is not needed with money that doesn't yet exist. The billboard has an unintentional message; it speaks of the reproduction of failure.
But, only by taking this route of ambition does it seem we can create our meanings in an existence otherwise regarded as pointless.
Brief thoughts on “Monument”
Liam Morgan -April 2016
Because 'Monument' was such a site-specific work (you could probably even call it a Ready-Made), it is important to understand the context of the building which became 'Monument' and of the time 'Monument' took place.
The building was a 49-storey luxury real-estate development project being built in the 1990s. A combination of problems led to the project halting and the building never being finished. It is not exactly clear what caused the final cessation of construction, but we can look to the matters of embezzlement, crony-ism, corruption, an ill-floating economy, etc which ultimately let to the Asian Financial Crisis.
Of course that economic crisis was a major event in recent history (most monuments are built to commemorate major events or people). Over a number of years, I was doing work centered around this building and, given it's prominence in a prime location in the city where the AFC started, to me it became something of an unintentional monument to that event and to the socio-economic and political failings which lead up to it. Most of which continue to exist in Thailand and beyond.
The second important context of 'Monument' is temporal. The work was executed a few months after the military coup in which the current dictatorship of Prayuth Chan-o-cha took power away from the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra. In the colour-coded political factioning of Thailand, this can be seen as a move of 'Yellow' overtaking 'Red'. Of course there are many ways of reading this colour-dichotomy (which I won't get too deep into here), but ultimately they represent a struggle between a traditional (existing) power structure (Yellow) and a new power-structure which has been built up since the AFC (Red).
They both have their ways of manipulation and control of the population(s) of the country, and we can see it as one (new) power attempting to overtake an incumbent (old) power. Or perhaps 'system of holding power' is more accurate. And I believe this changing facade of political-economic power is affecting a cultural shift in the people(s) of Thailand. The self-identities and strict hierarchy of Thai society is being moving a bit.
So I decided to take this building which I had begun to view as a monument to these notions and issues and events and finish it. Through the use of red light, I turned it that 49-storey abandoned building into the monument that it had become to me: a red cast on a crumbling structure achieved unannounced, uninvited and without permission.