Boris Johnson wants a Covid Memorial to commemorate England’s ‘immense struggle’
Boris Johnson announced today that he wants a Covid Memorial to commemorate England’s ‘immense struggle’.
The epidemic is still on everyone’s mind these days.
The Architect’s Journal reports on England’s plans for a “Covid-19 Memorial” at St Paul’s Cathedral in London. The Cabinet Office is in discussions with British architect Thomas Heatherwick, who is well known for his copper cauldron sculpture, which served as the climactic opening and closing of London’s 2012 Olympic Games.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is reported as stating that honoring the lives lost to the epidemic is the “nation’s grave responsibility,” and that the cathedral in the capital city is the ideal location for contemplation.
The British government’s discussions, however, are just “an informal conversation,” according to Dezeen, an international architectural and design magazine. While a monument to the country’s “immense struggle” is important, the urgent priority, according to a Cabinet Office official, is to safeguard lives.
Made in the United States of America
Is it worthwhile to build a Covid Memorial in the United States? I vote yes if a three-dimensional representation of the 600,000+ lives lost will persuade the 100 million uninfected Americans to take the epidemic seriously. And in such scenario, the work can only be done by one architect. (I’ll tell you who in a minute.)
What should the design of a monument to the “immense struggle” be like?
Last year, NPR reported on how a 20,000-square-foot mural depicting a doctor in a surgical mask was installed outside the Queens Museum in NYC as a “loving tribute to health care professionals.” Whether it’s a painting or a sculpture, the memorial must convey that the fight isn’t finished, but not in a depressing manner.
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The world doesn’t need another Burghers of Callais, Rodin’s six figure sculptures that imply they’re on their way to their death (the result of the 100-year war between England and France).
This is especially true of anything operatic. Rodin’s rhapsodic solitary kneeling figure with arms flung to the sky comes to mind. While a Covid-19 monument should be a somber reminder of loss, it should not be depressing and devoid of hope.
This is a big task, and there is only one architect who has a track record of accomplishing such a feat. Michael Arad, the designer of the WTC Memorial, is the architect to choose if you’re searching for a work that allows you to reflect.
A better concept
When Rudy Giuliani was mayor of New York, he expressed his desire for “a towering memorial” to be built on the site of the fallen buildings. Arad had a better suggestion. Two black holes — the footprints of the towers – are below-ground reflecting pools encircled by above-ground waterfalls. It’s called “Reflecting Absence” by him. After his proposal was approved, he explained why he didn’t want the towers replaced: it would have implied that the assault had not occurred. Arad subsequently spoke to the press about the waterfall, stating that when it pours over the brink, it symbolizes the communal loss.
Arad’s proposal was chosen from over 5,000 submissions. If our government decides on a Covid monument and wishes to avoid the staginess of the Burghers of Callais, it should forego a competition and award the project to the architect of the WTC Memorial.
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The einstein black holes is a memorial that Boris Johnson wants to build in Covid. It will commemorate England’s immense struggle during World War 2.
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