The Future Monument
Coventry, UK 2004
Coventry won a Millennium commission in 1998 for a city centre regeneration initiative and asked Jochen Gerz to produce two works: The Public Bench and The Future Monument. After years of discussion about the controversial projects, the works were inaugurated in January 2004.

The centre of Coventry has been rebuilt for the second time since World War 2, following its bombing by German forces. The idea behind The Future Monument is one of tolerance and reconciliation, peace and change. As often the enemies of the past become, over time, the friends of today, the artwork addresses the taboos of history and memory. People were asked to name the nations, which were enemies of their country in the past. The names of the eight most commonly mentioned nations among a total of 56 are now inscribed in glass plaques. These plaques read:

TO OUR GERMAN FRIENDS
TO OUR BRITISH FRIENDS
TO OUR JAPANESE FRIENDS
TO OUR FRENCH FRIENDS
TO OUR SPANISH FRIENDS
TO OUR RUSSIAN FRIENDS
TO OUR AMERICAN FRIENDS
TO OUR TURKISH FRIENDS

They are placed in front of a glass obelisk, which is lit from the inside. The Future Monument approached the members of the different communities of the city equally and through the resulting answers one can comprehend the constituency of the population today. The results of this ‘poll’ give voice to the hidden pasts of the city. As a second part of the work, each group, community or organisation coming forward with 40 signatures, had a plaque installed behind The Future Monument. 69 communities did so. These plaques show how unexpected the minorities are that constitute society today. 6000 people contributed to the artwork.

Object: Obelisk 4.6 meters high of glass 12cm thick, 8 glass plaques 50 x 50 cm; other plaques 20 X 20 cm each. In cooperation with students from the School of Art and Design of Coventry University, Chelsea School of Art and Design, University and students from the Art History Dept. of Warwick University.

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Additional article:
A stranger with secrets
by Sarah Wilson, 2004
 
© Gerz studio
 
© Richard Sadler