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Statues in the Square: Hauntings at the Heart of Empire

Cherry, Deborah (2006) Statues in the Square: Hauntings at the Heart of Empire. Art History, 29 4 . pp. 660-697. ISSN 01416790 [Historical and Philosophical studies > History of Art]
Creators:Cherry, Deborah

This article, published in a peer-reviewed international journal, provides a history of the sculpture and space in Trafalgar Square, an intensely contested site that has been constantly redrawn and rebuilt.

It offers a new account of the square by focusing on its statuary and memorials, as well as the colliding forces which have had a stake in the space. Starting from Ken Livingstone’s call for the removal of two statues of Victorian generals the article considers the installation and removal of statuary at this landmark location, from the square’s inception in the early nineteenth century, to the installation of military leaders in the nineteenth century, and the contemporary sculptures that have been temporarily sited on the ‘fourth’ plinth.

In considering a specific location and its histories over nearly two centuries, the article argues that a ‘location’s location’, its surrounding areas –which have also changed--reconfigures the site as well as its everyday usage and users. The commemorative role of statuary in the square is considered through Freud’s analysis of monuments and his thinking on the tripartite relations between memorials, metropolitan space and the subject. This allows an analysis of the statuary’s potential for signifying (or not) to present passers-by as to those of the past, for an examination of the past’s intrication in the present. This is extended through readings of Jacques Derrida’s writings on haunting, developed in his Specters of Marx (1994). Dwelling on the space of the square and its statues, the essay considers how the past, never uncontested and always conflicted, haunts the present, and its spaces; it concludes with reflection on what the dead have to say to the living and on what the past imposes on the future.

Type of Research:Article
Additional Information (Publicly available):

Deborah Cherry: Current Research

I am Associate Director of TrAIN, the research centre for the practice and study of transnational art, identity and nation. I am also a co-director of Critical Curating, a research network and project established between Central Saint Martins, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the University of Sussex which is investigating the nature of curating both contemporary art and historical art and design, and the place of curating in research.

My research interests are at present focused on a study of contemporary art and the senses, relations between the senses, the prominence given to and turns away from the visual, and the implications of post-colonial, transnational and diaspora studies.

I am the editor of Art History, the Journal of the Association of Art Historians, a Membre Titulaire of the Comité International d'Histoire de l'Art, and a panel member of panel 2 of the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Your affiliations with UAL:Colleges > Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design
Research Centres/Networks > Transnational Art Identity and Nation (TrAIN)
Date:01 September 2006
Digital Object Identifier:10.1111/j.1467-8365.2006.00519.x
Related Websites:http://www.arts.ac.uk/research/17453.htm
ID Code:1388
Deposited On:04 Dec 2009 00:07
Last Modified:23 Aug 2010 16:22
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