Professor Paul Gough is Pro Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President at RMIT University. He is executive head of the College of Design and Social Context, which has over 24,000 students and 1,100 staff.
Paul is a painter, a broadcaster and a writer. He has exhibited globally and is represented in the permanent collection of the Imperial War Museum, London; the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa and the National War Memorial, New Zealand.
He has published widely in cultural history, cultural geography and heritage studies, and has written or edited eight books, including monographs on the war artists Stanley Spencer and Paul Nash.
He has also published work on peace gardens, sites of remembrance, commemorative landscapes, and on the world’s most famous unknown street artist, Banksy.
We are gripped by the anxiety of erasure. Exercised that our name, our unique impact and contribution to history (however modest) will be forgotten, consigned to the dim past and unremembered. Never has the need to be carved in stone, cast in bronze, or recorded on a roll appeared to be so intense.
Everywhere new memorial forms are being planted in our over-furnished urban sphere, a thickening forest of monumentalia that threatens to choke the city and abbreviate the past. Not only are many questionable aesthetically but they perpetuate the status quo, prioritising the plinth over more fluid forms of remembering.
In this illustrated paper I will focus on how artists, designers, curators and communities have creatively challenged the habitual civic rituals of official and national commemoration, through counter-structures, virtual memorials, and dialogic formats that promote deep reflection, debate and occasionally dissent.