Visiting Artist Paper #1- Erica Doss

I found Erica Doss’s work to be very interesting.  It opened my mind to the way people vandalize artwork today, in that some have purpose behind it.  Not everyone vandalizes things just because they have nothing better to do.  Erica Doss gave many examples of vandalism that had reason and feeling behind them.  In one example, Erica Doss explained the Juan de Onate memorial by Reynaldo Rivera.  In this particular case, Juan de Onate’s foot was chopped off.  At first it was seen as a pure act of vandalism, but then the meaning behind the action was conveyed.  Cutting off Onate’s foot marked the 400-year anniversary of defeat.  So they called the action, “The Agony of Defeet.”   Although they were defacing the monument, they were doing it in order to remember the history of the piece and the reason it stands today.

In Erica Doss’s research, she tries to find reasons behind vandalism.  During her lecture, she made an excellent point.  Memorials are created in the first place to establish feeling, a feeling of honor, pride, sympathy and much more.  Memorials and statues are made to remind people of these feelings they felt when the event took place in history.  Over time, these feelings are forgotten.  So in a way, vandalism brings attention back to the artwork.

Memorials are also created in order to understand history.  People who were not present during the time the particular event occurred, cannot fully grasp the concept of the piece by being told about it.  They are better able to understand if some sort of action were to take place.  For example, people today can better understand the civil war when they watch reenactments and those who engage in the September 11th memorial by writing on the scroll, makes them feel more apart of something that occurred in American history; something that our culture grew from.

In the case of “The Agony of Defeet”, meaning is established to those who weren’t apart of the monument’s history.  Attention is brought to the pain that Onate would have felt if he were to get his foot chopped off.  This action relates the idea of how painful it must have been for this man to witness defeat firsthand.

Erica Doss has shown me a new way to look at vandalism.  In a way, I see Vandalism as a Contemporary art form in itself.  Vandalism establishes a new way to look at an old art form as well as instill understanding in those who didn’t experience the events firsthand.  It gives people a way to relate to the artwork because the act of vandalizing the piece alone gives them new and old feelings of anger, sympathy, and honor.

One Response

  1. I also attended Erica Doss’ lecture, and I found it to be extremely engaging. She helped me work through my thoughts about memorials and places of remembrance, as well as the vandalism that can oftentimes accompany it. I thought that her lecture, and her area of study for that matter, allowed me to understand the discourse that surrounds “memorial mania” and to develop a better sense of acceptance for those who wish to challenge these issues. I thought her lecture was intriguing and powerful, and it sounds like you felt the same!

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