Luis Hernández Mellizo ▪ Artista

Maquetas de monumentos para la construcción de un mundo mejor / Mock-ups of monuments for the construction of a better world


“Mockups of monuments for the construction of a better world”, is an exhibition especially designed for the Miniature Mobile museum of contemporary art by artist Luis Hernández Mellizo, curated by me, Adriana Rios Monsalve, and thanks to the invitation of George Mason University and particularly to Edgar Endress dean of the MFA Program. 
Luis Hernández Mellizo is a Colombian artist who lives and works between Buenos Aires, Argentina, Asunción, Paraguay and Bogotá, Colombia. His artistic production uses elements of daily life, combining them with political, social and territorial issues. He refers to himself as a Painter, even though his body of work includes all kinds of art media (sculpture, installation, video, etc), because it is what is most related to the trade of being an artist. Luis defines Painter as “a hardworking person who uses and organizes shapes and colors on a surface. He or she is a worker who sells his/her time in the form of commissioned work, for example, someone who paints cars or houses. Another type of worker, but emancipated, is the one who paints his or her interests and develops a research based visual thinking, an activity that in some sort of social agreement is given the name of Art” For this project the artist takes elements of a worldwide discussion on monuments that portray people who under a current perspective are understood as enslavers or murderers, in contrast to what before could be understood as adventurous people in search of lands and treasures for their kingdom. He also contrasts the understanding of a monument in terms of “High Art” based on the common use of materials such as Marble and Bronze and the use of daily life tools such as hammers used in construction, a must-have household item and a basic tool for artists in general. The Miniature Mobile Museum of Contemporary Art presents itself as a possibility within the artist's interests, because it allows him to reveal the contradictions between scale, discourses and the understanding of public spaces. The three sculptures shown here are at the same time a mockup of a monument that will never be built, while using real size tools that give them the quality of a collectable object. Shining a light on public monuments shows that there is more than either taking them down by force or keeping monuments with the meaning and implications of the time they were commissioned and located around the colonial world. Instead, it places a possibility of resignification through art, and implicitly invites museums and art and history institutions to take an active role in providing tools for people to understand such monuments in their proper historical context. It is imperative to bring new information to the table for new generations to create a better world for themselves and for older generations to forgive but not to forget. When we started working on this exhibition in late 2020 we couldn't foresee the social uprising that was about to happen in Colombia, a country that built an inclusive constitution in 1991 but that even now finds it hard to apply. At Covid 19 times it is a greater challenge for all countries to maintain the democratic promise of social justice, wellbeing and cultural rights, while decisions are made in autocratic manners in order to contain the spread of the virus. The MMMoCA arises as a possibility to bring art to people in public spaces while institutions figure out a way to deliver what they promised in the light of present times. Thank you

Mock-ups of monuments for the construction of a better world.

Monuments can be interpreted as a form of compassion to our offsprings, they were once placed with the idea of being permanent in the public space and with some purpose of remembrance and social relief, for virtues, mistakes or griefs. The resignifications, “gentle” spontaneous interventions be this artistic or or vandalistic obey to a shift in the paradigms of the States that decided , who, what and where to place them. Before the unsecular, patriarcal, and with a concept of history that was lineal and exclusive, now the societies are the ones to reevaluate the motives of these monuments leaving them intact, correcting them, moving them or bringing them down to be destroyed with a compasive intent for the current society and future generations, this change in parameters becomes an imperative experience of social change because it aims for a vindication of the past, to appease the current suffering and as a seed for the future.
A great example of this is that of the Misak community in Guaviare, Colombia, which in a clever act of resilience published in June of 2020 the legal trial done to Sebastian de Belalcazar, their coloniser 485 years ago. With arguments and proofs the condemn was to rewrite him in History as a genocide. From the Tulcan mount, sacred territory for the community, was torn down his statue in September, three months later. These acts matched chronologically with the protests that happened because of the death of George Floyd in hands of the police in EEUU which then resulted in the international resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement and consequently derived in the overthrowing of monuments to colonisers and enslavers as these were placed with the intent of washing their images and their history, rescuing moral values and human rights. The act of overthrowing a monument contrasts with its siting for when it is brought down it is done by and for the opressed people, poor and enslaved, it reconfigures the idea that whoever the monument was placed for was a superior human, almost a saint when in reality they were tyrants.
The civil infrastructure works, including the construction and siting of monuments and sculptures, in third world countries (sometimes called in way of development) tends to stay in renders and mock-ups, it seems like an effective way to sell the idea convincing politicians and citizens to later adjourn the dates, change the blueprints and materials, increase the costs and ask for the project to be refinanced to, in a bureaucratic and corrupt chain, steal the public resources and end up with a mediocre work with short lifespan, if it is even done. The pieces that I suggest to title mock-ups of monuments for the construction of a better world are then visualized and projected as that first instance of the monument: a pretty and well done mock-up, dreamy, an ideal of what it should be, thus, the decision of leaving it as it is, an utopian project of public sculpture never done that rather than narrating the individual heroism of someone resorts to the manual tool as a symbolic element of the potential of the work, a work that “anybody” could do. The tool as a “lifestyle”, a tool that could construct or destroy, in the same way as human compassion.

November-December 2020

Note: Popayans mayor is an example of omission he was incapable of negotiating the retiring or relocation of the commemorative sculpture of the coloniser to, for example, a museums yard for its resignification and investment on the archaeological site, work never advanced, until the community brought the statue down themselves. Days later the Minister of Culture identifying herself ideologically with the mayor announced its re-siting thus continuing the sad tradition of siding with the victimizer rather than the indigenous people victim.