Power in the Discourse of Art: Ephemeral Arts as Counter-Monuments


This study investigates how transience is articulated in contemporary sculpture. The term, process art was first used in the late 1960s to refer to art made from ephemeral materials. Such ephemeral art changes form over time and its existence is often brief. Observing the effects of time on the materials is usually the essence of the artistic experience. In the art industry, ephemeral art does not generally enjoy the similar prestige as archived art partly due to the difficulties in preserving it. There is discussion that ephemeral art is often relegated to the post-structuralist descendent position, as opposed to being in the traditionally powerful ascendent position for archived art. However, such a relationship of power has been questioned in various discourses in contemporary art. In particular, ephemeral art as anti-monument or counter-monument has been pointed out to be able to deconstruct traditional forms of monuments. With socio-cultural changes including the development of postcolonial consciousness and feminism, the role of monumental sculptures as effective carriers of memory and meaning in our time is disputed. Ephemeral art, on the contrary, provides contemporary artists with alternative visions and various possibilities.

Author Information
Kuninori (Shoso) Shimbo, Monash University, Australia

Paper Information
Conference: ACAH2015
Stream: Arts - Other Arts

This paper is part of the ACAH2015 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon