Artists Investigating Monuments (AIM)


‘Throughout history, in order to remind themselves of their human existence through passing of time, human civilizations have objectified the places where they are located. There can be many ways to remember significant places or events’.


The preliminary discussions between local artists on AIM started in The Artists Village’s forum on the Internet earlier this year, February 2000. During the discussions, many questions are raised about the functions of Singapore’s official monuments, the change of a monument’s symbolic meanings over a period of time and many possibilities of creating new monuments.  

An artist’s investigation into the meanings of existing monuments can uncover interesting thoughts and insights from the locals about their monuments in relation to their everyday life. Monuments are objectified symbols of past and present time in a specific place; their meanings are often created to remind people of a significant event in the course of history. These monuments are erected to commemorate cultural changes, important persons, national heritage or history, and important events during the formation period of countries. On another hand, present places and events can be objectified to express the sentiments of the individual and collectives. 


To erect a monument is to invest in a specific place with meanings and memories. This can happen by investing institutionalized ‘national ideology’ of a country; very often this ‘national idealogy’ will benefit those who have the prerogative to exercise power. The symbolic meanings of a monument can lend legitimacy to those who are in power to produce certain ‘identity’ or ‘old memories’. By justifying their actions based on the ‘truth, equality and progress’, these ‘identity’ or ‘old memories’ can be changed and re-conditioned into the individual’s mental map by the use of propaganda tools, thus becoming institutionalized knowledge for the public. At the same time, individuals and the collectives may also inscribe their own meanings on an existing monument, regardless of it’s context and original meanings. In the light of these two contrasts, what are the individuals’ public opinions about these monuments?  

In AIM, we like to explore the dual meanings of monument. On the one hand, it represents official meanings, on the other, it represent the individual’s or collectives’ struggle or resistance at one point in time of history. We will also like to explore the past meanings of specific monuments in relation to their present accountability. Monuments are more than just objectified symbols in their respective societies, they are specific witnesses to the evolution of a prevalent culture.   

AIM organizing committee

March, 2000.


Objectives of AIM

One objective of AIM is to invite artistic response to existing monuments and heritage sites; in this way re-presenting its original meanings as artistic findings. The other objective is to invite artistic response to create new monuments; with contrasting or affiliated practices in relation to local cultural ideas. AIM is also an opportunity to gather artists with different professionals from various disciplines so as to achieve awareness of each other’s specialized practices.   

Agenda of AIM

Participating artists are encouraged to respond to these agendas:

a      read a monument or a heritage site and identify it’s emotional, cultural use and its significance, and interpret these information through artistic practices.


   understand the history and technology of monuments of heritage sites in order to define their identity, and interpret these information into ephemeral form of art works.


c      understand a monument or a heritage site’s setting, their contents and surroundings, in relation to it’s site specificity. 


d     make balanced judgments based on shared ethical principles, and accept responsibility for long-term welfare of cultural heritage.


AIM Events

Local and international artists are invited to create new monuments at proposed AIM sites. On the 22nd of July, There will be an opening reception and inter-media collaborations by artists to commemorate the significance of local heritage sites. Two more public art performances will follow on 12th of August and 26th of August 2000. An exhibition space will be located to exhibit documentation of AIM events and facilitate discussions between invited participants made up of artists, sociologists and writers. A post-publication on new possibilities of artistic response to monuments or heritage sites and the exploration on the idea of monumentalization in AIM events will be publish later if there are adequate resources.