Monuments to the period we live in
chapterposted on 04.01.2017, 15:13 by Craig RichardsonCraig Richardson
John Latham’s (1921 – 2006) ‘monuments to the period we live in’ are two partially protected groups of oil shale ‘bings’ (Norse: heaps). These were initially the voluminous waste by-product of Scotland’s energy production industries, reconceived within a synthesis of methods originally developed by the Artist Placement Group (APG) 1965 – 89 and allied to concepts within the manifesto of auto-destructive art (Metzger, 1965) and the proclivities of Latham’s renowned but often controversial practice. This chapter explains the methodology of Latham’s reimagination of the site he renamed Niddrie Woman (1975-6) and why it has resonance. In doing so the essay looks forward to how the future conservation of these remarkable forms as sculptural monuments is increasingly dependent on their assessment as ‘hotspots’ of biodiversity. The academic context builds on archival items within the Artist Placement Group Archive at Tate Britain’s Hyman Kreitman Research Centre, Richardson (2012), Walker (1976, 1994) and curatorial research (Hudek, 2012), and onsite environmental research (Harvie, 2005).