Monuments aux Morts – Monuments to the Dead; how the symbolism of death, and commemorative memorials help us to define ourselves.
“Behind every man now alive stand 30 ghosts, for that is the ratio by which the dead outnumber the living”.
I became spellbound with Victorian mausoleums and Monuments whilst visiting cemeteries. The carvings are beautiful and their faces seem real. I started photographing them and it soon became obvious that particular designs cropped up over and over again. Angels holding on to crosses, the draped urn, the down turned torch, the broken column, and the weeping cherub, are all symbols of those who had gone before me.
Monuments have been created for thousands of years, and they are often the most durable and famous symbols of ancient civilizations. The Egyptian Pyramids, the Greek Parthenon, and the Moai of Easter Island have become symbols of their civilizations. In more recent times, monumental structures such as the Statue of Liberty and Eiffel Tower have become iconic emblems of modern nation-states. The term monumentality relates to the symbolic status and physical presence of a monument.
In his famous essay on ‘Monuments’ of 1927, the writer Robert Musil claims that there is nothing more invisible to the human eye than a monument. ‘The remarkable thing about monuments is that one does not notice them. There is nothing in the world so invisible then as a monument, and yet these monuments quite often are the only representation of life past.