we are at Rotterdam, and more specifically on Stationsplein – the square in front of Central Station – where stands an imposing bronze sculpture depicting a young black woman with sneakers and hands in pockets. The unusual pose tells about a simple but confident woman. Is titled Included Moments and was manufactured by Thomas J Prince (London, 1981), contemporary artist exploring important social issues such as marginalization, power, representation and perception of art in society through the sculptural language.
The Thomas J. Prince Statue and the Anti-Monumentalism Debate
The London artist’s sculpture depicts a simple, young black woman, a character who becomes iconic without necessarily having elements or experiences that make her stand out. Still, not everyone agrees with the idea that it’s okay to represent someone who has no special merits. “This statue in Rotterdam is the product of a social movement in which being a marginalized part is enough to gain sympathy. It is enough to be a woman, to have a disability, to wear a veil, to be dark-skinned. A statue that represents everyone is an insult to people who perform heroic deeds.”says the journalist Rosanne Hertzberger In the newspaper NRC Handelsblad. L’anti-monumentalism But it is just that: it distances itself from glorifying characters who were raised as role models, in favor of celebrating figures who tell the story of today’s world. “She is not a heroine, not a character with a glorious past. She is the future, our future, and this city is her home. Rotterdam is a port city where 55% of the population has a migration background.” stressed the mayor of Rotterdam, Ahmed Aboutaleb.
The work of Thomas J. Prince and contemporary heroines
Making the invisible visible, thinking more horizontally than vertically. These are the cornerstones of anti-monumentalism and the work of Thomas J. Prince in Rotterdam, but not only. When contemplating the artist’s work, it is impossible not to think of the work of Gillian Wearing (UK, 1963), Terrimanufactured in 2011.
This small statue depicts a woman with her arms outstretched, her hands clasped, and her feet planted firmly on the ground; Terri, the NYPD operative who was present at the 9/11 massacre in the Twin Towers. Despite numerous injuries, the woman was able to save three people and carry them out of the burning building. A contemporary heroine, just like Prince’s black wife.
Glory to Vergani